A gloomy report on manufacturing this afternoon contradicts and confirms a report from earlier today. The Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing contracted last month to its lowest level in more than three years, in part because of uncertainty about budget talks in Washington, D.C., and partly because of Hurricane Sandy. Earlier today, financial information firm Markit Group LTD. said Sandy contributed to a rise in its U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, to 52.8 last month from a more than three-year low of 51 in October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Firms said Hurricane Sandy, which hit in late October, was partly responsible for a jump in domestic new orders, suggesting the pace of growth could slow in the months ahead.