By Allison Prang
IHS Markit's flash reading for an economic indicator measuring both manufacturing and services business activity fell to its lowest level in more than six years.
The flash reading for the U.S. Composite Output Index was 49.6 in February, a drop from 53.3 last month, IHS Markit said. That measurement, which is the lowest it has been in 76 months, is based on data from the firm's PMI surveys for manufacturing and services, according to IHS Markit.
"With the exception of the government-shutdown of 2013, U.S. business activity contracted for the first time since the global financial crisis in February," IHS Markit Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson said in prepared remarks. "Weakness was primarily seen in the service sector, where the first drop in activity for four years was reported, but manufacturing production also ground almost to a halt due to a near-stalling of orders."
IHS Markit's flash U.S. Services Business Activity Index was 49.4, also the lowest it has been in 76 months, IHS Markit said. It fell from 53.4 a month ago. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected 53.2.
IHS Markit's two flash indexes measuring manufacturing also hit recent lows. The flash U.S. Manufacturing Output Index was 50.6, the lowest it has been in seven months, and a drop from 52.4 last month, IHS Markit said. It said its flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI was 50.8, the lowest it has been in six months. It slipped from 51.9 last month. Economists expected the U.S. Manufacturing PMI flash reading to be 51.5.
IHS Markit said the new orders private sector businesses received declined the first time since October 2009, when data started being collected.
Business confidence, however, was the highest it has been in eight months, IHS Markit said. It still called that confidence "historically subdued as firms highlighted ongoing global uncertainty and the outbreak of coronavirus."
Write to Allison Prang at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 21, 2020 10:55 ET (15:55 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.