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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed National Activity Index Indicates Growth Moderation
by Tom Moeller  April 22, 2013

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its March National Activity Index (CFNAI) backpedaled to -0.23 from an upwardly revised 0.76 in February. The three-month moving average pulled back to -0.01, its lowest reading since October. During the last ten years, there has been a 79% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

The Production & Income component deteriorated the most m/m to roughly-zero. That was followed by the Employment, Unemployment & Hours series which returned to negative territory after six months positive. The Sales, Orders & Inventories also fell back into negative territory. The Personal Consumption & Housing reading was unchanged m/m but it continued as part of an upward trend in place since the middle of 2011. The Chicago Fed reported that during March, 28 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the overall index while 57 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'12 2012 2011 2010
CFNAI -0.23 0.76 -0.56 -0.57 -0.09 -0.04 0.04
 3-Month Moving Average -0.01 0.12 0.16 0.02 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.14 -0.14 -0.17 -0.26 -0.22 -0.30 -0.30
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours -0.06 0.31 0.00 0.22 0.10 0.14 0.03
  Production & Income 0.01 0.47 -0.34 -0.35 0.04 0.09 0.22
  Sales, Orders & Inventories -0.02 0.13 -0.06 -0.17 -0.01 0.04 0.09
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