The pace at which US manufacturing industry is expanding slowed last month, sending what economists interpreted as the first signal of reduced demand in Asia. The National Association of Purchasing Managers said its index of activity fell to 52.5 from 54.4 in November, with output, orders and prices all lower. The export orders component slipped particularly sharply, from 54.2 to 50.6 - just over the dividing line of 50 between expansion and contraction. Norbert Ore, head of the NAPM's business survey, said: "Inflation is not rearing its head in any fashion."
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Drop in US exports seen as reaction to Asian crisis