A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwest and Plains states dipped last month, suggesting only slow growth for the region over the next three to six months.
The Mid-America Business Conditions index hit 53.1 in February, compared with 53.2 in January and 49.5 in December, according to a report released Friday.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said the region will remain on a sluggish course.
"Even though the housing sector is clearly getting back on its feet," Goss said, "manufacturing, especially manufacturing connected to global markets, continues to restrain overall growth for the region and nation."
The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline for that factor.
The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Looking ahead six months, the February index for business confidence sank to 50.6 from January's 56.6.
The supply managers were asked how the automatic federal budgets cuts scheduled to take affect after Friday's deadline in Washington would affect sales. More than 35 percent said they expected the cut in federal spending to cost their company some sales.
Here's a look at the other components of the overall index:
— Exports remained weak, coming in at 49.2 in February, compared with 45.3 in January.
— Imports improved to 53.7 from 50.7 in January.
— Inventories dropped to 52.2 from 55.0 in January.
— Production or sales improved to 55.5 last month, compared with 53.9 in January.