The service sector continued to expand in September, but at a significantly slower pace than expected, according to the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index released on Thursday.
The closely monitored measure came to 52.6, compared to an expected reading of 55.3 from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. It was the weakest reading since August 2016.
Markets sold strongly following the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 250 points after being slightly lower in the past.
ISM officials said that the general weakness arose from fear of tariffs, labor resources and the general direction of the economy. The news comes just two days after the companys industry also showed considerable weakness.
"Net, net, see below is what purchasing executives from service industries are calling to markets as the fear of recession continues to increase," said Chris Rupkey, CFO of MUFG. "Equity investors don't like the downfall of the industry starting to contaminate the bulk of the economy that employs millions of workers in service industries, including healthcare, retail, business administration, accounting, computer services, and beyond."
Over 50 represents growth in the survey, which measures the proportion of companies that expect to expand their business. A reading above 48.6 has been in line with broader economic growth.
The report comes amid concerns that the US economy is facing a potential recession in the future as global growth slows and tariffs have set things in business plans to expand.
The September production reading index was 47.8, which is the worst since June 2009, just as the Great Recession was ending. Thrusdays reading without production shows that the weakness seems to bleed into the broader economy, even though industry represents only 1[ads1]1.3% of US economic activity.
The weakness of the non-industry survey was broad-based.
New orders fell to 53.7, 6.6 points lower than the August reading, while employment fell to 50.4 from 53.1. Prices rose to 60 from 58.2.
"Although Chinese tariffs are understandable, they do affect our supply chain decisions," said one respondent in the "other services" category. "We are actively looking for alternative sources for our China-based production. At this time, we have not provided tariff costs to our customers, but we are considering all the alternatives."
Four components of the survey showed growth from August while five declined. The largest expansion came in order backlog, which increased by 5 points, from a contracting 49 to an expanding 54. New export orders rose 1.5 points to 52.
Other comments were less negative.
One respondent in the construction reported being "very busy" and "brief" regarding labor, while a participant in the finance and insurance industry indicated being "in route to end the year generally as expected, given interest rate changes, and customs and other economic indicators and trends. " This is news. Check back here for updates .