Growth in the US manufacturing sector slumped markedly in May, according to the latest data.
A drop in new orders and production sent the sector into a downward spiral at a higher rate than economists expected.
The Institute of Supply Management manufacturing index has dropped nearly seven percentage points from April, to 53.5 per cent.
New orders alone dropped by almost a fifth.
"Slower growth in new orders and production are the primary contributors to this month's lower ... reading," the institute said.
The news comes on the back of indicators showing the housing and jobs sectors are in difficulty.