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"The recent trend has been toward slower growth," said Norbert Ore, chair of the institute's manufacturing business survey committee. "However, December was apparently a very tough month as new orders, production, and employment were all below the break-even mark of 50%. Industries close to the housing market appear to be struggling more than others, and those involved in exports seem to be doing better. Slower demand appears to be more of a problem than excessive inventories based on the respondents' comment."