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Thu May 31, 2012, 12:15 PM

U.S. Business Activity Expands at Slower Pace as Orders, Production Cool [View all]

By Lorraine Woellert - 2012-05-31T14:11:24Z

Business activity in the U.S. expanded in May at the slowest pace in more than two years as orders and production cooled.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its barometer decreased to 52.7, the lowest since September 2009, from 56.2 in April. Readings greater than 50 signal growth. Economists projected the purchasing managers’ gauge would rise to 56.8, according to the median of 55 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

While demand for automobiles continues to fuel factory output, the debt crisis in Europe and a slowdown in China may cause some businesses to cut back on spending and hiring. Stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward its biggest monthly decline since September.

“When you’re in a fragile economy and the world around you is showing severe stress fractures, it’s going to impact us,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets in New York, the top-ranked forecaster for the Chicago index. “You’re seeing those headwinds flow fully through the U.S. economy.”

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-31/chicago-purchasers-index-fell-to-52-7-in-may-from-56-2.html

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