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Considered the single best snapshot of the condition of the factory sector, the ISM index is based on a survey of executives at some 300 industrial companies and is published the first business day of each month.  Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in that sector, while a contraction is signaled by an enumeration of less than 50.  So today’s reading of 51.3 is still positive, albeit less than the 56 expected and worse than January’s 57.  After Stocks experienced their worst month in almost two years, the ISM report has pushed the DOW down over 200 points so far this morning.

The total outstanding debt of the USA was $17.249 trillion as of 1/30/14, up from $17.076 trillion as of 10/17/13 (the date that the debt ceiling was suspended per Congressional legislation signed following the 16-day government shutdown).  Congress has had no debt ceiling since 10/17/13, but rather has permitted “normal spending”  to occur through 2/07/14 (that’s this Friday), at which time a new debt ceiling is to be agreed upon.  Our government’s projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2014 is $750 billion.  The Treasury Department reports that for every dollar of expected tax revenue, our government anticipates spending $1.25.