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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Ahead of Friday's ISM manufacturing report, the Chicago Business Barometer, a separate reading that tracks manufacturing companies based in the Midwest, produced its weakest reading in four years and the second lowest in a decade.

Threat level: The details of the report, also known as the Chicago PMI, were even worse.

  • New orders declined to 37.0, the lowest since March 2009.
  • Order backlogs fell almost 14 points to 33.1.
  • Prices at the factory gate fell for the third consecutive month.
  • The three strongest categories highlighted in a press release from the Institute for Supply Management — employment rose to 49.8, inventories moved up for a third month to 47.1, and production bounced to 46.8 — were all still below 50, the marker separating expansion from contraction.

Yes, but: The United Auto Workers strike at GM, which included nearly 50,000 workers and idled 34 plants across the country, likely contributed to the weakness.

  • The numbers should improve now that the union has agreed to contracts with GM and Ford.

The intrigue: It also appears business owners who participated in the survey are feeling the sickness but are dubious of the medicine.

  • In response to the question of how government-imposed tariffs would affect their firm’s business, 82.5% of respondents said it would have a negative impact (56.5% noted a little negative impact and 26% indicated a major negative effect).
  • October’s special question asked: “What impact would the latest interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve have on firm’s business?” The majority (51.1%) expect no impact, while 31.1% state a positive effect.

Go deeper

Anti-Trump lawmakers' private security expenses ballooned after Jan. 6 riot

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on April 14. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News.

Between the lines: Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

55 mins ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of the city's most prominent pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.