October Non-Manufacturing Improves

Even as companies remain concerned about high prices for energy, the non-manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy posted nearly a seven percentage point gain in business activity in October. The Institute for Supply Management's business activity index for non-manufacturing last month was at 60%, up from 53.3% in September, thanks in part to a 1.6% increase in the rate of new orders. An index figure above 50% indicates the non-manufacturing sector generally is expanding; a figure below 50% signals contraction.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department released revised data on U.S. factory orders in September, and they were worse than what economists generally were anticipating. New orders for manufactured goods fell 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted $390 billion in September; economists were looking for just a 1% decline. New orders for manufactured durables -- generally big-ticket goods with a design life of more than three years -- were down 2.4% in September to $206.5 billion, worse that the 2.1% decrease the department initially reported. New orders for non-durable goods were down nine-tenths of a percentage point in September to $183.5 billion.

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