The Institute for Supply Management reported its ISM Manufacturing index fell for the fifth straight month Monday to its lowest level in 10 months. The reading for November came in at 50.8%, in line with economists' expectations. The number still represented expansion, 50.0% is the threshold, but was down from October's 50.9%. "There is a bit of a retrenchment, but manufacturing isn't falling off the table,'' said Julia Coronado, a senior economist at Barclays Capital. The report showed factories cut payrolls and inventories in response to concerns of a drop off in consumer spending and business investment. "Other segments of the economy are struggling, manufacturing continues to grow due to continuing strength in new orders, and a recovery in production from last month. Prices, driven higher by energy prices, are once again the major concern," ISM chairman Norbert J. Ore said. Companies will look to exports, which increased last month, to soften the blow if the U.S. economy slips into an extended downturn.
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