NEW YORK – The seasonally adjusted Milwaukee Report on Business gained to 58.40 in December from 57.77 in December, according to the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee.

New orders received slid to 62.18 from 62.48, production dropped to 59.97 from 61.44, employment fell to 56.47 from 64.32, supplier deliveries grew to 57.30 from 50.70, and backlog of orders soared to 51.67 from 40.74.

Inventory levels climbed to 56.06 from 49.91, customers’ inventories rose to 40.74 from 33.93, prices gained to 65.15 from 51.79, exports increased to 56.82 from 50.00 and imports climbed to 52.27 from 46.30.

The blue collar diffusion index decreased to 53.3 from 64.3, while the white collar diffusion index fell to 54.9 from 60.5.

Respondents’ comments included:

--Most commodities were stable in the last month

--uncertainty (business levels six months out) is now the biggest issue

--Sales are strong now

--Exchange rate changes are the ‘root cause’ of some price increases

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