Manufacturing expanded at the slowest pace in a year on a weaker pace of hiring, production and orders.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its manufacturing index fell to 52.9 in February from 53.5 in January, the fourth straight drop and the lowest reading since January 2014.

{mosads}In the past year, the index hit a high of 58.1 in August. 

Any reading above 50 reflects expansion — the sector grew in February for the 26th consecutive month.

The new orders index dropped to 52.5 percent from 52.9 percent in January, while production toppled to 53.7 percent from 56.5 percent, and employment slipped to 51.4 percent from 54.1 percent.

The West Coast port slowdown and falling energy prices were responsible for most of the easing.

“At the same time, the stronger U.S. dollar and sluggish growth abroad were also likely factors, with export orders declining for the second straight month,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist with the National Association of Manufacturers. 

“Manufacturers have been challenged on a number of fronts recently, dampening demand and production,” he said.

“Yet, they remain mostly optimistic about the coming months, and to the extent that the West Coast ports slowdown has been a factor, the recent agreement to settle this issue should be helpful moving forward.”

Tags Manufacturing National Association of Manufacturers

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