US manufacturers expanded last month at slowest pace in a year as orders, hiring weaken

EnergyAssociated Press

US factories expanded last month at the slowest pace in a year, as orders, production, and hiring all declined.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its manufacturing index fell to 53.5 in January from 55.1 in December. That is the third straight drop and lowest since January 2014. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.

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Several trends are slowing factory output: Overseas economies are faltering and the dollar has increased in value, cutting export demand. And the sharp drop in oil prices since last June has driven U.S. oil and gas drillers to order less drilling equipment and machinery.

New orders are still growing, but at the slowest pace in a year, the survey found. Factories added jobs, but at the weakest pace since June.