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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

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.