WASHINGTON - U.S. manufacturers contracted in December at the fastest pace in more than six years as factories cut jobs and new orders shrank.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of factory activity fell to 48.2 from 48.6 in November. Any reading under 50 signals contraction.
The figures suggest that the troubles weighing on manufacturers last year -- slow overseas growth, a strong dollar and low oil prices -- will likely continue into 2016.
The ISM report coincides with a survey that found that manufacturing in China contracted for a 10th straight month in December, the latest sign of slowing global economic growth.
U.S. stock markets plunged in early trading, reflecting renewed concerns about China's troubles and Middle East tensions. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 387 points.