A survey of corporate credit managers fell in December for the second consecutive month, flashing a worrisome signal about the economy in the new year.
The National Association of Credit Management said its monthly economic indicator index fell to 54.9 in December, down from 55.8 in November and below October’s reading of 57.
The index covers information about credit applications, credit collections and credit extensions.
“It would have been nice to end the year on a high note,” said Chris Kuehl, a Kansas City area economist for the credit management association.
While the national economy continued to strengthen of late, Kuehl said the credit association’s index generated its worst numbers since March.
“That is a real worry,” Kuehl said.
He said the reasons for the weaker numbers are not clear, but it might indicate problems in corporate financial statements. “At first blush, it appears that there have been stressors all year and that some companies have been able to cope better than others,” Kuehl said. “There were companies that were weak to begin with, and there has not been enough growth to pull these companies out of it.”
Despite the slump in the association’s index in December, several pieces that make up the overall report flashed positive messages, such as data on credit extensions.
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