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The Iraq war may be over, but the economy still hasn’t picked up in a meaningful way. That’s the message from today’s ISM report, which surveys the thinking of the nation’s corporate purchasing managers. The ISM index ticked up to 49.8, a dead-neutral reading. Wall Street had hoped for 51, which would have signaled a clear-cut expansion in the manufacturing sector.

Staying Alive

The stock market managed to keep its “war rally” alive today after yesterday’s drubbing. While a 65-point gain on the Dow doesn’t seem like much nowadays, winning stocks outnumbered losers on the NYSE by a healthy 2.6 to 1 margin. However, trading volume came in at only 1.3 billion shares, well below the average for the past 10 weeks.