NEW YORK (AP) -- A measure of U.S. manufacturing activity plummeted in October as new orders slowed dramatically.
The reading of 38.9 from the Institute for Supply Management was dramatically below September's reading of 43.5.
It is far worse than economists' prediction of a reading of 41.5, according to the consensus estimate of Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.
A reading above 50 signals growth.
The index had been hovering near what economists call "the boom-bust" line for most of the year until its sharp fall in September brought it to the lowest level since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.