By Agence France-Presse Business activity in the manufacturing heartland of the U.S. Midwest grew at a slower pace in December and employment stalled, an industry survey showed Thursday. A survey-based barometer of business activity in the Chicago area fell 4.0 points to a seasonally adjusted 61.2 points in December, the National Association of Purchasing Management, Chicago said. Any figure above 50 points indicates a business sector expansion, but it was the second consecutive monthly slowdown in growth after the barometer hit a 54-year high in October. A breakdown showed:
- Employment shrank for the first time since July, with the index slumping 11.7 points to 49.1.
- The production index eased 1.6 points to 66.8.
- A barometer of new orders dropped 5.5 points to 65.5.
- Order backlogs eased, with the index down 1.0 point to 51.7.
- Input prices rose at a slower pace. The prices paid index eased 5.4 points to 84.4.