WASHINGTON — The nation's manufacturing engine lost steam in November, contracting for the first time in three months and falling to its lowest level since 2009, according to a leading private barometer released Monday.
The Institute for Supply Management's purchasing manager's index decreased to 49.5 last month from 51.7 in October. A figure below 50 indicates economic activity is contracting.
The manufacturing sector had expanded modestly in August and September after three months of slight contraction. But the November reading marked the lowest level for the widely watched gauge since July 2009.
Analysts had expected the sector to continue expanding last month. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted the November reading to be unchanged from October.