NEW YORK — Consumer spending rebounded in September while manufacturing activity expanded in October, though at a slower pace than the previous month, providing further evidence of continued but moderating economic growth on the eve of the presidential election.
Overall, those and other reports released Monday painted a picture of an economy that was still expanding but not as fast as in the summer. Manufacturers said they were concerned about higher prices for energy and commodities, which were eating into profits.
Given the somewhat mixed reading, the reports gave little new information to voters trying to make up their minds about how the economy has been faring under President Bush, said Ethan Harris, the chief U.S. economist at the Lehman Bros. investment bank.
“Right or wrong, the incumbent gets credit or blame for the economy,” Harris said. “But the economy isn’t breaking clearly for either candidate. It’s a healthy economy, but the labor market remains in slow growth mode, and growth is moderating. … I don’t think the data are tipping the balance one way or the other.”
The Institute for Supply Management reported that its index for manufacturing activity continued to expand in October, though at a slower pace than in September and marking the 17th consecutive month of growth.
The index came in below expectations at 56.8 and also below the reading of 58.5 recorded in September. While the indicator remains well above the level of 50 that indicates growth in manufacturing, the index had been above 60 for the first seven months of the year, suggesting that manufacturing growth as been moderating.