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Economic Report: U.S. factories grow at slowest pace in 14 months amid omicron wave, ISM finds

The numbers: The closely followed ISM barometer of manufacturers slipped to a 14-month low of 57.6% in January as a torrent of omicron cases thumped the U.S. economy and shortages of labor and supplies hindered production.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal forecast the index to decline to 57.7% from 58.8% in December. Any number above 50% signifies growth. 

Although the index is still quite strong historically, it’s fallen three straight months.

The good news? Orders and production are still quite robust, a sign of steady customer demand.

The report, compiled by the Institute for Supply Management, is seen as a mirror of the health of the U.S. economy.

Big picture: The U.S. suffered another blow from the coronavirus, but cases are tumbling and the economy has shown great resilience during the pandemic. Business is likely to pick up again soon.

How fast will depend on how quickly the gears of the economy get unstuck and inflation begins to wane.  

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.06% and S&P 500 SPX, -0.19% fell slightly in Tuesday trades.

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