NEW YORK – A measure of U.S. manufacturing dropped to the lowest level since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as new orders dropped.

The reading of 43.5 from the Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday was down from August's 49.9. It was reportedly worse than economists' prediction of 49.5, according to the consensus estimate of Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR. A reading above 50 signals growth.

The survey of purchasing managers found new orders fell to 38.8 in September from a reading of 48.3 in August. Employment, deliveries, inventories and manufacturers' order backlogs also reportedly fell.

High prices for commodities, along with tight credit conditions, have begun to squeeze companies. Pilgrim's Pride Corp. earlier this week said it expects to report a "significant" fiscal fourth-quarter loss.


Source: Associated Press