The seasonally adjusted Credit Manager's Index for July increased to 48 from 46.4 in June, marking the sixth consecutive increase for the index, according to a report released Monday by the National Association of Credit Management. The index, a gauge of economic factors affecting credit and collection professionals, was down 2.9 points from 50.9 in July 2008, but it has reached its highest point since August of last year when the index was 50.7. Any score below 50 indicates economic deterioration. The index consists of four favorable factors, such as sales and the amount of credit extended, and six unfavorable factors, such as accounts placed for collection and bankruptcy filings. Economic expansion likely will be under way by the end of the third quarter, according to Chris Kuehl, the association's economist. "The sense is that the weakest companies fell by the wayside as the economy toughened and now all that is left are the survivors," Kuehl states in the report. "The good news is that in a recession, this process allows the solid companies to pick up market share and recover much faster. There is some anecdotal evidence that this process is taking place."