[NEW YORK] The US manufacturing sector slowed in December to its lowest rate of growth since last January, and a gauge of employment sentiment fell, an industry report said on Friday.
Financial data firm Markit said its final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 53.9 in December from November's final reading of 54.8. The preliminary December read for the index was 53.7.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion in economic activity. Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, noted that factories had their best year since the recession, even as the outlook for 2015 is now a bit clouded.
"Companies are citing greater uncertainty about the outlook, especially in export markets, leading to some scaling back of expansion plans and a greater reluctance for customers to place orders compared to earlier in the year, which suggests a slowdown could become more entrenched unless demand revives," he said in a statement.
The survey's output index fell to 54.7, a low not seen since last January, from 55.6 in November. The employment index declined to 53, the lowest since July, from 55.1 in November.
New orders showed a modest improvement in sentiment, Markit said.