Business activity in the U.S., Europe and Japan fell in August, according to new surveys, pointing to a sharp slowdown in global economic growth as higher prices weaken consumer demand and the war in Ukraine scrambles supply chains. U.S. companies reported a sharp drop in business activity in August in a broad-based decline led by services companies, though manufacturing slowed as well. High inflation, material shortages, delivery delays and interest-rate rises all weighed on business activity, the S&P Global survey said. The composite purchasing managers index for the U.S. economy—which measures activity in both the manufacturing and services sectors—was 45.0 in August, down from 47.7 in July. That marked the second consecutive month with a decline and was the lowest reading since May 2020, early in the pandemic. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction; a reading above that level indicates growth. “Gathering clouds spread across the private sector […]