U.S. Economic Indicators

The ISM Manufacturing Index rose 3.1 points to 50.9 in January, returning to expansionary territory for the first time since July 2019. The Employment Index rose 1.4 points to 46.6, while the New Orders Index rose 4.4 points to 52.0. ISM Report

Construction spending declined 0.2% in December to an annualized rate of $1.33 trillion. Private construction fell 0.1% and public construction fell 0.4%. Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

According to the Washington Post, efforts to contain the Chinese coronavirus threaten to cut off U.S. manufacturers from critical parts and materials produced in China. Even if Chinese factories are able to resume normal operations in a week or two (which seems unlikely), there will be lasting supply constraints from commercial flight cancellations that reduce overall space available for trans-Pacific shipments. WaPo

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. businesses are being granted fewer exemptions from tariffs on Chinese imports, with the approval rate for the most recent tranche of tariffs falling to just 3% compared to 35% for previous rounds of levies. More than 4,500 companies have requested at least one exemption, arguing that they have no viable or cost-effective alternatives to Chinese products. WSJ