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Line workers install the trunk on the flex line at Nissan Motor Co's automobile manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, U.S., August 23, 2018. Picture taken August 23, 2018. Photo by William DeShazer/Reuters

U.S. manufacturing falls in April as virus ravages economy

WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing retreated again in April, a victim of economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Friday that its manufacturing index dropped to 41.5 last month from 49.1 in March. Anything below 50 signals contraction.

The news was bad across the board: Production, new orders, hiring and export orders all fell faster in April than they did in March.

Economists had expected an even bigger drop.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantines, travel restrictions and business closings imposed to combat it have hammered global manufacturers, disrupting their access to supplies and crushing demand for their products.

Economists had expected an even bigger drop.

Manufacturing was hurting even before the outbreak brought the economy to a near-standstill in March. The ISM manufacturing index has fallen seven of the last nine months. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China had raised costs and created uncertainty that paralyzed investment decisions.

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