Manufacturers around the world are slowing production, flagging the possibility of a double-dip global recession.
New data shows that US factories hit their lowest rate of growth in two years in August, while manufacturing contracted in Europe and orders were reined back in Asia.
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The downturn has heightened concerns over the health of the global economy, with potential knock-on effects for Australia, which saw its own manufacturing index slip by 0.1% in August.
“The uncertainty in the marketplace is huge,” says Richard Seaman, chief executive of Seaman Corp, an Ohio manufacturer. “You really have low visibility going into the future because people don’t know exactly what to do.”
Retail sales rebound
Retail sales showed an encouraging lift in July, with new data showing that department store takings rose by 1.2%.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed that national spending upped by 0.5% in July, after falling 0.6% in May.
However, the recovery is patchy, with spending still falling in NSW and South Australia.
Apple defends green record
Apple has defended its environmental record following accusations that some of its suppliers are responsible for polluting areas of China.
Chinese environmental groups claimed that Apple suppliers were discharging harmful pollutants. However, Apple insisted that it was committed to the highest standard of social responsibility.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 119.96 points, or 1%, to 11,493.57. The Australian dollar was up to 107.23 US cents.