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Manufacturing contracted in the United States and around the world last month, dragged down by economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Wednesday that its U.S. manufacturing index fell to 49.1 in March after registering 50.1 in February. Any reading below 50 signals a contraction. The index had signaled growth in January and February.

Also Wednesday J.P. Morgan reported that global manufacturing shrank in March. Its worldwide manufacturing index registered 47.6 in March. That was a slight improvement on February's 47.1 — but only because Chinese factories began ramping back up last month after being locked down in February to counter COVID-19. Excluding China, J.P. Morgan found, global manufacturing dropped to the lowest level last month since May 2009 at the depths of the Great Recession.

Economists had expected a bigger drop in the U.S. index. Timothy Fiore, chair of ISM manufacturing index committee, said that "things got worse" as March dragged on and predicted that the index will signal more weakness in April. New orders and factory employment fell last month to the lowest level since 2009. Production and export orders also fell.

 

Former Hulu head to lead WarnerMedia

AT&T has brought in the former head of Hulu to lead WarnerMedia, the news and entertainment division that includes HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. movie studio.

The company said Wednesday that Jason Kilar, the founding chief executive of streaming platform Hulu, will replace John Stankey, a longtime AT&T executive, as the boss of WarnerMedia. Kilar will report to Stankey, who remains AT&T's president and chief operating officer.

The announcement of the change, which goes into effect May 1, comes a month before the scheduled introduction of HBO Max, the WarnerMedia streaming service that will be the exclusive online home of "Game of Thrones," "Friends" and the Harry Potter films.

"Jason is a dynamic executive with the right skill set to lead WarnerMedia into the future," Stankey said. "His experience in media and entertainment, direct-to-consumer video streaming and advertising is the perfect fit for WarnerMedia, and I am excited to have him lead the next chapter of WarnerMedia's storied success."

Kilar, 48, was early to streaming. Hulu began as a joint venture among Comcast's NBCUniversal, the Walt Disney Co. and Twenty-First Century Fox in 2007, two years after the start of YouTube and the same year that Netflix unveiled its digital-video-on-demand service. Adopting a strategy that contrasted with the model favored by Netflix model — a monthly subscription fee with no advertising — Kilar insisted on an ad-supported plan for Hulu.

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