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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed Index Turns Negative
by Tom Moeller  April 26, 2012

The National Activity Index (CFNAI) for March from the Chicago Federal Reserve fell to -0.29 from an upwardly revised 0.07 in February, earlier reported as -0.09. The three-month moving average reversed course last month and fell to 0.05, its lowest level since November. During the last ten years there has been an 81% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP

A negative read of production & income and a lower employment, unemployment & hours figure accounted for the deterioration. The personal consumption & housing reading remained negative while sales, orders & inventories held at a minimally positive level. The Chicago Fed reported that forty of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the index in March while 45 made negative contributions.

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity. It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend.

The Chicago Federal Reserve figures are available in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Mar Feb Jan Mar'11 2011 2010 2009
CFNAI -0.29 0.07 0.38 0.52 -0.06 0.00 -1.62
 3-Month Moving Average 0.05 0.37 0.25 0.16 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.28 -0.24 -0.27 -0.34 -0.32 -0.32 -0.36
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.09 0.16 0.37 0.27 0.12 0.04 -0.82
  Production & Income -0.13 0.12 0.31 0.30 0.09 0.22 -0.27
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.03 0.04 -0.03 0.29 0.04 0.07 -0.16
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