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Key Manufacturing Index Drops to Lowest Level in 38 Years

The manufacturing sector will continue to decline over the next three to six months, according to an index from the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. The group's December 2008 composite index dropped to 28, down from 48 in September 2008. It is the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 1972. "It seems as though manufacturing activity in most industries hit a wall following the credit crunch that erupted in mid-September," says Donald A. Norman, Ph.D., MAPI economist and survey coordinator. "A second factor, related to the credit crisis, is the rapid slowing of economic activity in countries that are major trading partners of the United States." The organization's export order index fell to 25 percent in December from 76 percent in September, and the U.S. prospective shipments index fell to 14 percent from 47 percent.

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