U.S. Manufacturing slides in February 2012

US manufacturing growth eases in February

US car makers reported strong sales in February

1 March 2012 Last updated at 17:00

After three months of acceleration, the pace of growth slowed at US manufacturers in February.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of factory activity fell to 52.4 in February from 54.1 in the month before.

However, in separate data, US car makers reported a busy February. Sales at Chrysler jumped 40%, Ford 14% and General Motors 1.1%.

Chrysler said demand for its fuel-efficient cars was driving sales.

US manufacturing has been showing signs of strength over recent months.

But the latest ISM figures suggest the recovery is patchy.

“This is a mixed report. Export is better than I had thought, but new orders dropped a bit. Given [that] the recent data have been stronger on balance, I’m not that worried,” said Craig Dismuke, chief economic strategist at Vining Sparks.

“This is not a game changer. There is a lot better sentiment out there. We will still have slow growth in the foreseeable future,” he said.

That was reflected in the latest figures on US consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of US economic activity.

Taking inflation into account, consumer spending was flat in January, said the Commerce Department.

“Consumer spending is off to a pretty weak start in the first quarter,” said Keith Hombre, an economist at Unseen Asset Management in Minneapolis.

“That, along with the most recent durable goods, is painting a pretty weak picture for first-quarter GDP, despite the strong jobs numbers.”

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