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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: A key measure of manufacturing activity comes out today. It's the regional survey from Chicago Purchasing Managers. Diantha Parker says the group's index, called PMI, is expected to get a lukewarm reading.
DIANTHA PARKER: The housing slump is partly to blame. It's squelching demand for construction equipment.
Richard Peck, an economist with the University of Illinois at Chicago, says manufacturers track the index closely. And this month's reading could bode badly for next month's.
RICHARD PECK: Supply chain managers who are looking at inventory control want to know if they should expand or decrease orders. And firms that are engaged in manufacturing want to know whether they should back order or reorder materials and so forth for their manufacturing process. So this gives a little bit of a clue as to how you should take those kinds of decisions.
The Chicago PMI is considered a barometer of the national economy as a whole, because the bulk of U.S. manufacturing is based in the Midwest.
I'm Diantha Parker for Marketplace.