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Manufacturing Activity Slowed In October On Reduced Inventories

Supply chain networks may have slowed last month, as manufacturing activity in Britain, China, Canada and the U.S. slowed but remained in expansion territory. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index slipped 0.8 points last month to reach 50.8.

Despite flirting with the 50-point mark that distinguishes between an expanding market and a contracting one, the ISM index has managed to stay north of 50 for 27 consecutive months.

According to experts, the decrease was largely in response to producers' scaling back of inventories, as well as general market uncertainty stemming from mounting unemployment in the U.S. and fiscal crises in Europe.

There is no question that manufacturing activity has slowed a bit in response to the weakness that we are seeing out of Europe," Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities told Reuters. "What this report really highlights is that the economy is really still stuck in slow growth mode and we are unlikely to shake that any time soon."

Customs data released last month showed China's trade surplus diminished in September, although not as forcefully as Europe's.

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