A slew of domestic and international manufacturing reports came out today, underscording the depth of the slowdown and how it has impacted exchange traded funds (ETFs) in particular.

Everywhere, from Australia and Asia to Europe and the United States, the drop in manufacturing activity has led to a slump within the worst slowdown since the Great Depression.

In the United States, the Institute of Supply Management said its index fell to the lowest point in 28 years, to 32.4 in December from 36.2 in November, reports Bettina Wassener for The New York Times. One economist says the report means that the United States was in even worse shape than anyone thought at the end of 2008.

New orders have been shrinking for 13 straight months, and are now at the lowest level since January 1948. Elsewhere:

  • In Europe, an index of purchasing managers fell to a new low in December.
  • In China, the purchasing managers’ index showed a slowdown for the fifth straight month, and suffered the steepest decline in its history.
  • Australia’s manufacturing slowing for the seventh consecutive month.
  • In South Korea, exports dropped 17.4% from one year ago.
  • Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI): down 40.1% for 2008

Industrial ETF

Maybe with a new year comes a new attitude. Around the world, stock markets opened up to positive numbers despite the negative reports, reports Pan Pylas for the Associated Press. Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 all closed higher.

GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors (GM) won’t have the sole rights to provide loans to people who buy GM cars, and it will stop financing leases as well, reports Tom Krisher for the Associated Press. In the deal, the government will get 5 million preferred shares in exchange for a $5 billion capital injection.

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