U.S. factory activity cools; cost pressures mounting

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WASHINGTON — U.S. factory activity slowed in early February likely as a global semiconductor chip shortage hurt production at automobile plants, while prices of inputs and manufactured goods soared, which could heighten fears of strong inflation growth this year.

The report from data firm IHS Markit on Friday also showed businesses in the services industry were experiencing higher costs related to the procurement of personal protective equipment, a greater proportion of which they were passing on to clients “through a marked rise in selling prices.”

Inflation is being…

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