NEW YORK (AP) -- Manufacturing activity fell in December to its lowest level in nearly a decade, an industry group reported Tuesday, offering yet another sign of a weakening U.S. economy.
The National Association of Purchasing Management said its purchasing index fell to 43.7 percent in December, down from the 47.7 it reported in November. It was the fifth month in a row the index had dropped. The December reading was significantly lower than the 47.0 reading analysts had anticipated.
An NAPM index above 50 signifies growth in manufacturing, while a figure below 50 means contraction.
"This is the lowest the PMI has been since April 1991 when it recorded 42.9 percent," said Norbert J. Ore, who oversees the monthly survey.
The NAPM noted that the overall economy continued to grow in December, for the 116th consecutive month. But there was almost no good news in manufacturing, with activity falling sharply in the fourth quarter of news, Ore said.
"The manufacturing sector is definitely struggling at this point," Ore said, blaming higher interest rates and higher energy prices.
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