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April Manufacturing Index Shows Continued Improvement

The decline in U.S. manufacturing is continuing to slow, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The trade group's monthly manufacturing index for April was 42.8, its highest level since September. While a reading below 50 still indicates a contracting economy, the index has indicated a steady slowing of that contraction since December. Norbert J. Ore, chair of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, tells the Associated Press (AP) that the figures indicate a "low-growth" scenario even after the manufacturing sector begins to grow again. "A low-growth scenario probably means a jobless recovery as far as manufacturing is concerned," he says, quoted by AP. "The overall spending level, debt level of the country isn't going to support a high growth rate. I don't see the drivers that would drive us to a high growth scenario." The ISM's report indicates growth in five manufacturing industries: nonmetallic mineral products; plastics and rubber prodcts; machinery; food, beverage and tobacco products; and printing and related support activities.

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