U.S. Manufacturing PMI Slides To 21-month Low

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The assembly line at the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant where the new 2020 Chevy Silverado HD is being built is shown on February 5, 2019 in Flint, Michigan.

The numbers: The IHS Markit flash purchasing managers index for manufacturing in March fell to a 21-month low, while the services PMI weakened to a 2-month low.

The flash manufacturing PMI fell to 52.5 from 53 in February, while services PMI fell to 54.8 from 56.

Any reading above 50 indicates improving conditions. The “flash” reading is based on approximately 85% of the final number of replies received each month.

What happened: New work rose at the weakest pace since April 2017, the report said, due to cautious spending patterns among clients and less upbeat business sentiment. The latest data pointed to the weakest increase in payroll numbers since June 2017, the report said.

Overseas readings were worse. The flash eurozone manufacturing PMI fell to a 71-month low of 47.6 in March, with Germany’s skidding to 44.7, a 79-month low for Europe’s largest economy.

The big picture: With bond yields falling and the yield curve on the verge of inversion, concerns about the U.S. and global economy are at the fore, with the Federal Reserve responding this week cutting back its forecast of interest-rate hikes.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.91%  tumbled nearly 200 points in early action.

Also read: The Fed won’t kill the economic expansion, top forecaster says