U.S. manufacturing, construction sectors remain weak


The U.S. economy received more unpleasant information Monday concerning two key indicators: the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index inched up in February but still indicated a contraction in the sector, while construction spending in January fell more than expected.

The ISM's manufacturing index rose to 35.8 in February, well above the 33.8 Bloomberg News consensus estimate. The manufacturing index totaled 35.6 in January. ISM readings above 50 indicate an economic expansion; below 50, a contraction. Hence, the ISM reading below 50 for the13th straight month means the manufacturing sector of the economy has been contracting for more than a year. Further, even more telling, the index's employment sentiment component fell to 26.1% -- the lowest reading in the index's 61-year history.