The seasonally adjusted Credit Managers' Index rose 0.1 point, to 48.1, in August, after seven months of more substantial gains, according to a report released last week by the National Association of Credit Management.

The index, a gauge of economic factors affecting credit and collection professionals, was down 2.6 percentage points from August 2008. Scores below 50 indicate economic deterioration. It increased steadily from 39.7 in January to 48 in July.

The index evaluates 10 factors, including sales, the amount of credit extended, the number of accounts placed for collection and bankruptcy filings to evaluate the availability of capital.

"The credit system has not healed, and it may be some time before there is a sense that the biggest issues are behind the economy," Chris Kuehl, the association's economist, said in a press release. "It is mildly encouraging to note that the index has not fallen, but an anemic 0.1 gain was much less than had been anticipated."

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