economy

U.S. manufacturing slows in January

U.S. manufacturing barely expanded last month, in part because cold weather delayed shipments of raw materials and caused some factories to shut down.

The report from the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, contributed to a plunge on Wall Street. The manufacturing report raised the possibility that the U.S. economy might be starting to weaken.

The ISM said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December. It was the lowest reading since May, though any reading above 50 signals growth.

The figures suggest that U.S. manufacturing is slowing after a strong finish to last year. Auto sales have decelerated, and businesses are spending cautiously on machinery and other large factory goods.

The slowdown means that economic growth in the first three months of this year will probably come in below the strong 3.6 percent annual pace in the second half of 2013.

-- Associated Press

Brookings

Bernanke takes job at D.C. think tank

Ben Bernanke arrived at the Brookings Institution to begin the next chapter in his professional life, the first workday after ending an eight-year term leading the Federal Reserve through crisis and recession.


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The former Princeton University professor arrived at 8 a.m. at the Washington-based policy research center, where he will be a distinguished fellow in residence, said D.J. Nordquist, a Brookings spokeswoman. His successor, Janet Yellen, was sworn in as Fed chairman an hour later.

Bernanke, a Great Depression scholar before joining the central bank, will have time to work on a history of his years at the Fed, which included unprecedented actions such as cutting the benchmark interest rate to zero and buying bonds to lower long-term interest rates.

The book will be "a high priority for him," said Mark Gertler, an economist at New York University and co-author of academic research with Bernanke.

"My guess is that he would want to write the definitive history of the Great Recession, much the way his academic role models Friedman and Schwartz wrote the history of the Great Depression," Gertler said.

-- Bloomberg News