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Today, the Institute for Supply Management released its latest report on business for the manufacturing sector. The report indicated that manufacturing activity slumped into contraction territory in May for only the second time since August 2008. At 49.0, the purchasing manager's composite index (PMI) declined 3.35% since April and dropped 6.67% below the level seen a year earlier. That's an indication of slowing manufacturing activity for the third consecutive month.

Respondent assessments appear mixed, with some sounding a cautious tone while others remain more upbeat:

  • "Customers are anticipating resin price decreases and holding back orders." (Plastics and Rubber Products)
  • "Slight uptick in overall business but not substantial." (Textile Mills)
  • "Government spending has tightened, which has moved out program awards and caused some reduction in force." (Computer and Electronic Products)
  • "Market outlook is relatively flat, with some promise of raw materials inflation relaxing." (Electrical Equipment, Appliances, and Components)
  • "General economy seems sluggish and pensive. Buyers are not buying much beyond lead times." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "Downturn in European and Chinese markets is having a negative effect on our business." (Machinery)
  • "We are having a difficult time hiring skilled employees." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Business continues to increase, but over the past 20 days we have seen the trend flatten." (Furniture and Related Products)
  • "Market was holding strong until mid-month -- then softened." (Wood Products)
  • "Decline in sales for FY Q2 over same period a year ago due to softer demand [in] both domestic and exports." (Chemical Products)

Source: ISM Manufacturing Report On Business: May 2013