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The US manufacturing index posted its 12th straight month of contraction in January, the private Institute for Supply Management reported Monday. Still, activity in the sector rose slightly from a record low of 32.4 in December to 35.6 (readings above 50 signal growth).

In the first act of its kind for the new administration, the State Department Monday barred four companies in China, three in North Korea, and two in Iran from trading with the US.

US wartime spending in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals considerable waste and corruption, according to a report and recent testimony to the Wartime Contracting Commission. There are 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, defective products, bid rigging, and theft.

A dozen US banks that received a total of $150 billion in government rescue money requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years, according to data compiled by the Associated Press. The average annual salary for the jobs the banks sought to fill was $90,721.


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