U.S. manufacturing contracted further in December as lower oil prices undercut spending in the energy sector while construction spending fell in November for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years, suggesting the economy ended 2015 with less momentum. The downbeat reports on Monday cast a dark cloud over the near-term growth outlook and prompted economists to sharply lower their growth estimates for the fourth quarter.

"The year begins with manufacturing activity shrinking and, looking further in the data, the shrinkage looks to be increasingly sourced in domestic demand rather than exports," said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Research in New York.

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