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Manufacturers’ Worries Escalate Over Coronavirus

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U.S. manufacturers are worried — very worried — about the impact the coronavirus could have on their operations, according to recent report from Barron’s, a weekly magazine published by Dow Jones & Co.

While economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in February for the second straight month, according to a monthly report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), so did comments from U.S. manufacturers voicing concerns about the coronavirus. Barron’s reported that “no one knows what’s going on” was a common theme among comments from manufacturers.

ISM’s Tim Fiore, who leads the organization’s survey committee, told Barron’s that comments about the coronavirus from survey participants from 800 businesses increased 38 percent from January to February. Most comments were about the lack of information regarding the virus.

“Think about if you are sourcing parts through a broker in China,” Fiore told Barron’s. “When are you going to get them? You have no idea.”

According to ISM, the import component of the survey fell from 51.3 to 42.6., reflecting the impact of the virus.

Fiore told Barron’s that if the virus isn’t contained by April, there could be negativity in other parts of upcoming monthly surveys, including employment.

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