NEW YORK Oct 1 U.S. manufacturing activity grew
at its slowest clip in three months in September and firms took
on fewer new workers, an industry report showed on Tuesday.
Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing
Purchasing Managers Index stood at 52.8 last month, matching an
initial reading taken in mid-September but below August's 53.1.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector
The rate of output growth was the fastest since March, with
the sub-index rebounding to 55.3 from 52.5 in August.
But demand from overseas fell for the first time in three
months, slowing the overall rate of new orders and suggesting
September's output gain may prove temporary.
A gauge of employment in the sector slipped to 51.3 last
month from 53.1 in August.
"Manufacturers are battening down the hatches, cutting back
on employment wherever possible to boost productivity," said
Markit chief economist Chris Williamson. "Job creation could
well stall altogether unless demand picks up again."
Economists polled by Reuters expect the broader U.S. economy
added 180,000 jobs last month, up slightly from 169,000 in
Signs that hiring is slowing could further delay Federal
Reserve plans to wind down support for the economy. The Fed
surprised markets last month by maintaining current monthly bond
purchases, designed to keep interest rates low and stoke growth.
"Policymakers at the Fed will surely want to see the economy
faring far better than these data are suggesting before
countenancing any cuts to the stimulus," Williamson said.
The Markit data has lately painted a gloomier picture of the
manufacturing sector than that from the Institute for Supply
Management, which showed U.S. factories in August enjoyed their
fastest pace of growth in more than two years.
But that report also showed a slower pace of hiring in
August. The ISM will release its September index at 10 a.m. on
Tuesday (1400 GMT).
The two surveys use some different methodologies, including
one related to seasonal adjustment.