Leading Economies Stagger, Contract

Hold tight to your job


The world's biggest economies are headed for a weak spring, sharp manufacturing slowdowns this month signal, possibly dragging on global growth for the rest of the year.

Markit's gauge on U.S. factory activity dropped 2.9 points to 52, missing forecasts for a smaller dip to 54.2 and falling by the most since June 2010.

Chinese manufacturing is nearing stagnation, with the research firm's index slipping 1.2 points to 50.5, barely indicating expansion. Export orders and employment shrank, signs of lower international and domestic demand.

Eurozone manufacturing contracted at a faster pace, led by Germany. Service sector activity in Europe's No. 1 economy hit a six-month low and swung back into negative territory, joining the slump at German factories.