WASHINGTON - U.S. manufacturing sector growth slowed sharply in January, with new orders nearly stalling, according to the Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers index released Monday.
The ISM index sank to 51.3 from 56.5 last month, still showing expansion but not far above the 50 level between expansion and contraction.
It was the second month that the PMI showed slowing in the sector.
The new orders component plunged to 51.2 from 64.4, and production slowed almost as steeply, to 54.8 from 61.7.
Employment growth slowed, and both inventories and customer inventories contracted at a faster pace than in December.
Order backlogs also contracted, while the prices component gained sharply, to 60.5 from 53.5.
Some of the slowdown was blamed on the harsh winter weather that punished many parts of the United States last month.
"We have experienced many late deliveries during the past week due to the weather shutting down truck lines," a survey respondent in the plastics and rubber products industry said.
Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics called the steepness of the fall in the ISM index "a shock," but said its recent strength at any rate had been unsustainable.
"China's PMI has been telling us for some time to expect weaker ISM readings, and the run of severe weather likely has hurt too."
On Saturday China reported its official manufacturing PMI for January fell to 50.5 from 51.0 in December.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014