Growth in the manufacturing sector ground to a halt in September, the first contraction in eight months. In what economists called a ``terrible' report, the National Association of Purchasing Management's index of manufacturing activity fell 4.7 points to 49 percent.
A reading above 50 percent generally indicates the manufacturing economy is expanding; below 50 percent indicates a decline. The index must register 44.5 percent or lower to indicate full-fledged recession.Most of the decline was attributed to a drastic plunge in new orders, which fell for the first time in 17 months. The decline means ``we are not likely to see any notable growth in either the manufacturing sector or the overall economy,' the report said.
Purchasers buy materials that fuel factories. Their actions are a barometer of future economic activity.