Edited from Bloomberg NewsThe National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago said its Business Barometer fell to 61.5 from 61.7 in November, remaining above its average 60.7 for the year. A figure higher than 50 signals growth. Economists expected the Chicago index to fall to 60 in a Bloomberg survey.A gauge of prices paid by manufacturers fell from a 26-year high.
The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to 322,000 last week, staying below the year's average and suggesting the job market is still growing, today's Labor Department report showed. The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, rose by 250 to 325,000.
``My gut tells me the economy is slowing,'' said Charles Crane, strategist at Scotsman Capital Management in New York. Stocks will do best if the economic expansion is slow enough to keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates and ``strong enough to push earnings up,'' he said.