The Institute for Supply Management reports that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 49 in May from 50.7 the previous month – reaching the lowest level in close to four years. Other indicators also point to a slowdown: A new-orders gauge fell to 48.8, and production is slowing. The contraction in the ISM index is worrisome, according to Cliff Waldman, senior economist at MAPI. "This is the first contraction that the ISM report has shown since November of 2012 and is fairly broad-based, with notable weakness in new orders, production, and the backlog of orders," he says. While seasonal fluctuations can be expected, the data suggest this might be a slowdown, he adds.
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