The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted further in December, as the impact of a stronger dollar undermined export profitability, while U.S. construction spending fell for the first time in nearly a year and a half in November, suggesting only moderate economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity fell to 48.2 from 48.6 in November and is now at its lowest level since the recession days of June 2009.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector and a reading below 50 indicates contraction. The reading was just below expectations of 49 from a Reuters poll of 80 economists.

The employment index fell to 48.1 from 51.3 a month earlier. Expectations called for a reading of 50.

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