By Dave Sebastian


U.S. manufacturing activity in March fell at its fastest pace since August 2009 as the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has battered businesses.

The reading for the index was 48.5, a drop from 50.7 in February, IHS Markit said. Domestic and foreign demand have fallen as companies shuttered factories and laid off staff, the firm said.

Output contracted in March, and average selling prices fell at the steepest rate for more than four years as firms offer more promotions to clients, IHS Markit said. New orders also fell at their fastest pace since June 2009 on slumping demand.

Employment fell at its quickest pace in more than a decade, the firm said. The level of confidence about the future fell to its lowest degree since IHS Markit began collecting data for the index in July 2012, it said.

"While some producers reported being busier as a result of stockpiling and anti-virus activities, notably in the food and healthcare sectors, these are very much the minority, and most sectors reported a rapid deterioration in demand and production," IHS Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson said.


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 01, 2020 10:17 ET (14:17 GMT)

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