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The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing gauge in July dropped 4.4 points to 50.9%, the worst reading since July 2009 and barely staying above the 50% no-change line.
Since April, the ISM index has slumped 9.5 points, the worst three-month dip since the September-to-November 2008 period when Lehman Brothers collapsed.
The new orders index fell into contractionary territory for the first time since June 2009, and indexes for prices and employment in particular saw big drops. The prices index has dropped a stunning 26.5 points over the past three months. The employment gauge fell 6.4 points to 53.5%.
One of the worst came from Brazil, where the HSBC Brazil manufacturing PMI fell in July to 47.8, the second consecutive month below the 50 no-change line and the worst reading since May 2009. China, Russia, the U.K., Spain and Greece also reported sub-50 readings.
Markets have been so preoccupied with the austerity theater playing out in Washington and Athens that they almost lost sight of the big picture: the global economy.