The Institute for Supply Management released its manufacturing purchasing managers' index for the U.S. on Wednesday. The index declined to 51.5 in March from 52.9 in February, missing expectations for a decline to 52.5. It was the fifth consecutive decline.
The harsh weather, higher health-care costs and the stronger dollar weighed on the index.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, below indicates contraction.
The new orders index fell to 51.8 in March from 52.5 in February.
The prices paid index increased to 39.0 in March from 35.0 in February.
The employment index decreased to 50.0 in March from 51.4 in February.