Wow... down to 49.9. This is a diffusion index, meaning any reading under 50 indicates CONTRACTION. Economists thought the index would rise to 54.5. Doh! This is certainly a negative surprise for the stock market and selling is already coming in. Plus, the weak PMI is on top of another weak jobless claims report - this time the filings went up 34,000. The March Euro contract is now closing in on 1.3300 as the dollar weakens on this data and gold is trading at its high of the day with the January contract already testing $650/oz. But don't worry - Helicopter Ben Bernanke told us the other day that the economy is just fine!