Report says Midwest, Plains economic index declines in July after hitting 3-year high in June



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OMAHA, Nebraska — A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwestern and Plains states remained in positive territory despite dropping from a three-year high point a month earlier, a report released Friday said.

The overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped more than 3½ percentage points in July, to 57.0. The index had risen slightly in June, to 60.6 — the three-year high.

The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers at Creighton University say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota

"Supply managers indicated anecdotally that a weaker housing market is restraining growth while the region's energy sector, including alternative energy, is a source of positive growth," said Ernie Goss, a Creighton University economist who oversees the survey.

Almost a quarter of the supply managers who responded reported expanding global sales have been the biggest driver of company sales over the past year. Sixteen percent said expansion in the farm sector was the major factor in pushing their company sales higher for the year.

Looking ahead six months, the business confidence index dipped to 60.0 from 63.6 in June.

"Despite growing global tensions, improvements in the national and regional job market supported supply managers' business outlook," Goss said.

The index on new export orders index slipped to a still-healthy 57.5 in July from 60.2 in June. The import index for July jumped to 57.7 from June's 53.4.

"It is a very encouraging signal to track very healthy export readings and an eighth straight month of expanding export orders," Goss said. "Exports remain an important source of growth for the region. At the same time, firms in the region continued to expand purchasing from abroad in expectations of upturns in company sales in the weeks and months ahead," he said.

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