US PMI manufacturing was finalized at at 15-month low of 53.8 in December. Markit added that “new order growth eases to 15-month low” and “business confidence lowest since October 2016”.
Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit said:
“Manufacturers reported a weakened pace of expansion at the end of 2018, and grew less upbeat about prospects for 2019. Output and order books grew at the slowest rates for over a year and optimism about the outlook slumped to its gloomiest for over two years. The month rounds of a fourth quarter in which manufacturing production is indicated to have risen at only a modest annualised rate of about 1%.
“Some of the weakness is due to capacity constraints, with producers again reporting widespread difficulties in finding suitable staff and sourcing sufficient quantities of inputs. However, the survey also revealed signs of slower demand growth from customers, as well as rising concerns over the impact of tariffs. Just over two thirds of manufacturers reporting higher costs attributed the rise in prices to tariffs.
“Growth was led by strengthening demand for consumer goods, and robust growth was also reported for investment goods such as plant and machinery. But producers of intermediate goods – who supply inputs to other manufactures – reported the weakest rise in new orders for over two years, hinting at increased destocking by their customers.
“A shift to inventory reduction was highlighted by purchasing activity in the manufacturing sector rising at the weakest rate for one and a half years in December, providing further evidence that companies have become increasingly cautious about spending amid rising uncertainty about the outlook.”