U.S. manufacturing growth in February causing investors to have some doubts about the state of the economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity fell to 52.4 last month. Economists were expecting a reading of 54.5. Recently, manufacturing growth has been one of the bright spots for the U.S. economy. “The ongoing global challenges are part of what we’re seeing in the number today,” said Christopher Low, an economist at FTN Financial in New York.
Consumer spending only rose 0.2% in January, below analysts’ estimates. This number turned flat after adjusting for inflation. Consumer spending makes up a big chunk of the economy, so if that doesn’t begin to trend higher it will be difficult for the overall economy to recover. “Consumer spending is off to a pretty weak start in the first quarter,” said Keith Hembre, an economist at Nuveen Asset Management. “That along with the most recent durables goods is painting a pretty weak picture for first quarter GDP despite the strong jobs numbers.” [Read more...]