March’s ISM manufacturing index is 49.1, signaling contraction as coronavirus hits economy

An employee works at the plant of SANY America in Peachtree City, Georgia, March 29, 2019.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

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U.S. manufacturing activity contracted in March as the coronavirus outbreak continues to pressure the economy, data released Wednesday by the Institute for Supply Management showed. 

The ISM manufacturing index fell to 49.1 last month from 50.1 in February. Activity was driven down by a steep decline in new orders and production, the data showed. Prices within the sector also contracted. 

“The coronavirus pandemic and shocks in global energy markets have impacted all manufacturing sectors,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management, in a statement. 

More than 800,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. is the country with the most confirmed cases, with over 189,000.

Stocks have tumbled into a bear market amid the outbreak, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite all trading more than 20% below record highs set on February. 

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