By Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Figures from a monthly survey of supply managers in nine Midwest and Plains states suggest slow or little economic growth ahead, according to a report released Monday.

The Mid-American Business Conditions index fell to 47.6 last month, down from 50.1 in June. This is the first time since January the reading has fallen below growth neutral 50.0, the report said. More than one-third of those surveyed named global economic conditions as the greatest factor weighing on company sales and business conditions over the past year.

Economic optimism, as reflected by the July business confidence index, sank to 47.0 from June’s 51.9.

“Global economic uncertainty, including June’s Brexit vote, was a significant economic concern for a large share of supply managers in our survey,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.

More than 20 percent of those surveyed named downturns in the farm economy as the largest factor slowing company sales and growth.

The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers 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.

The index for new export orders rose to 52.5 from June’s 47.6 and May’s 52.1. The import index for July jumped to 51.0 from 47.8 in June.

“Expansions among global trading partners more than offset a relatively strong U.S. dollar,” Goss said. “A strong U.S. dollar makes U.S. goods less competitively priced abroad.

“However, I do expect the strength of the dollar to continue to weigh on export orders. At the same time, the relatively strong U.S. dollar, making foreign goods more competitively priced in the U.S., boosted imports for the month.”

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