The Hong Kong economy probably shrank again last month as production fell and companies received fewer new orders, according to a business survey. The Hong Kong Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 49 last month from 49.7 in November, the fifth month of economic contraction, the survey said. A reading higher than 50 means the economy is growing. The slight decline in last month's index reading indicated only a marginal worsening in economic conditions, said Britain's NTC Research and the Hong Kong branch of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, which conducted the survey. About a fifth of the 250 companies polled said production levels last month were lower than in November because of slowing demand. Companies also said the volume of new business fell in December from the month before, and have fallen in four of the past five months. 'The weakness of underlying business conditions in the Hong Kong economy continued to have a negative effect on demand conditions,' the report said. Staff levels also fell last month and have fallen almost every month for the past two years. But the contraction in employment in the past four months was almost negligible, the report said.