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September 23, 2020 12:15 PM, EDT

Growth in US Business Activity Stays Solid, IHS Markit Data Shows

An American flag is displayed on a factory floor in Bowling Green, Ky.An American flag is displayed on a factory floor in Bowling Green, Ky. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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U.S. business activity continued to expand at a solid clip in September, outpacing a stagnant Europe and capping a vigorous third-quarter rebound for the economy.

The IHS Markit flash composite index of purchasing managers at manufacturers and service providers eased to 54.4 from a 17-month high of 54.6, the group reported Sept. 23. Readings above 50 indicate growth and the U.S. figure stands in contrast to the euro area, where the gauge barely stayed positive against a backdrop of resurgent coronavirus infections. In Japan, business activity contracted for an eighth month.

The U.S. report adds “to signs that the economy will have enjoyed a solid rebound in the third quarter after the second quarter slump,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement. Still, risks “seem tilted to the downside for the coming months as businesses await clarity with respect to both the path of the pandemic and the election.”

Activity at U.S. businesses outpacing counterparts in Europe and Japan.

The index of future activity, while still elevated, declined to a four-month low in August. The composite measure of current orders increased to the highest level since February 2019.

The IHS Markit’s flash manufacturing PMI climbed to 53.5 this month, the highest since January 2019, while the group’s services index eased to 54.6.

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