Midwest Business Index Posts First Gain Since August

Business activity in the U.S. Midwest expanded for the first time since August, a report showed on Friday, buoyed by an improvement in the labor market.

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But the forward-looking new orders gauge dropped to its lowest in more than three years, suggesting the improvement may be short-lived.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer rose to 50.4, just shy of the 50.5 reading forecast by economists. The measure was 49.9 in October.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.

The forward-looking new orders index fell to 45.3 from 50.6 — the lowest since June 2009. The gauge of employment rose to 55.2 from 50.3.

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