The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Business Barometer plunged to 37.8 in October from 56.7 in September, its lowest level since May 2001, the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago said Friday.

The data is compiled on a seasonally adjusted basis. An index reading below 50 signals a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted a 48.0 reading for the indicator.

The production index plummeted to 30.9 from 71.4, the new orders index fell to 32.5 from 53.9, the order backlogs index slid to 39.0 from 54.9, and inventories rose to 56.5 from 37.7. The employment index decreased to 41.5 from 49.1 and the supplier deliveries index was at 47.5, down from 55.0 last month. The prices paid index declined to 53.7 from 80.7.

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