Economic activity from the manufacturing sector contracted in December, although at a slower rate that in November. The ISM Manufacturing Index came in at 47.4, up slightly from the 46.7 reading in both October and November. Despite the slight improvement, the index remained in contraction for the fourteenth consecutive month. Any reading below 50 denotes contraction, while any reading above 50 shows expansion. The one bright spot within the index was from the production component, which improved back into expansion at 50.3. The new order component slipped again however, sliding to 47.1 and remaining in contraction for the sixteenth straight month. The backlog of orders component improved to 45.3, but remained in contraction once again.