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Purchasing managers see loss of momentum

Tempe , Ariz. -- U.S. manufacturing activity continued to grow during September, but just barely, the nation's purchasing managers reported in their monthly canvass of smoke stack America . The widely watched Institute for Supply Management (ISM) monthly gauge of activity fell by 1.6% to a reading of 52.9, held back by slowdowns in production, employment, supplier deliveries, inventories, exports , and order backlogs.

On the down side, the index measuring customers' inventories rose by 3.0%, suggesting customers may not have to reorder goods soon, pointin g to a future slowdown in manufacturing. A bright spot was the price manufacturers pay for supplies and raw materials, where the index fell by 12.0%, to a reading of 61.0, suggesting that prices are still going up, but not as rapidly.

"It's apparent that manufacturing is losing momentum and feeling the effe cts of higher interest rates and a weaker ho using market," said Norbert O re, chairman of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

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