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Key Manufacturing Index Shows Contraction, But At Slower Pace

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector failed to grow in February for the 13th consecutive month, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The group's manufacturing index registered 35.8 percent, 0.2 percent higher than the January index of 35.6. A reading below 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is contracting. "While production has slowed its rate of decline, employment continues to fall precipitously," says Norbert J. Ore, chair of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Survey respondents appear generally pessimistic about recovery in 2009. Some express hope that the stimulus package will help their industry." None of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth for February. The ISM calculates the index based on surveyed data from purchasing and supply executives across the United States.

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