Markit U.S. Factory Index Declines to Lowest Since January 2014

The Markit Economics preliminary May index of U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly declined to 53.8, the weakest reading since January 2014, from 54.1 a month earlier, the London-based group said Thursday.

A figure above 50 for the purchasing managers’ measure indicates expansion. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for the index to climb to 54.5. Estimates ranged from 53.5 to 56.

The group’s measure of orders decreased to 54.2 in May, also a 16-month low, from 55.3 in the prior month. The gauge of factory production fell to the weakest level this year.

The survey adds “to fears that the strong dollar is weighing on the U.S. economy and hitting corporate earnings,” Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said in a statement. “Export sales have now dipped for two straight months, something not seen for two years.”

The Markit measure is based on replies from about 85 percent to 90 percent of companies in a poll of more than 600 American manufacturers.

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