U.S. manufacturing activity eased off an 11-year low in May, the strongest sign yet that the worst of the economic downturn was behind as businesses reopen, though the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis could take years because of high unemployment.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday its index of national factory activity rose to a reading of 43.1 last month from 41.5 in April, which was the lowest level since April 2009. A reading below 50 indicates contraction in manufacturing, which accounts for 11% of the U.S. economy.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index rising to 43.0 in May.
The first increase in the ISM index since January mirrored improvements in…