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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed National Activity Index Holds in Positive Territory
by Tom Moeller  November 12, 2013

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) improved again. The September reading of 0.14, after 0.13 in August, was  the second positive figure following five consecutive negative readings. As a result, the three-month moving average improved to -0.03, its best level since February. During the last ten years, there has been a 79% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Monthly changes in the index components again were mixed. The Production & Income series showed improvement with an increase to 0.19 from 0.17, its best level since February. The Sales, Orders & Inventories component notched up to 0.05 from 0.04. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours index was unchanged at 0.08, but the Personal Consumption & Housing index slipped to -0.18 from -0.17. The Chicago Fed reported that during September, 47 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the overall index while 38 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 Sep Aug Jul Sep'12 2012 2011 2010
CFNAI 0.14 0.13 -0.36 0.03 -0.07 -0.08 0.02
 3-Month Moving Average -0.03 -0.15 -0.21 -0.32 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.18 -0.17 -0.17 -0.16 -0.22 -0.30 -0.30
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.08 0.08 -0.02 0.13 0.10 0.14 0.03
  Production & Income 0.19 0.17 -0.19 -0.02 0.04 0.05 0.20
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.05 0.04 0.01 0.08 -0.01 0.04 0.09
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