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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed National Activity Index Reaches Twelve-Month High
by Tom Moeller  December 23, 2013

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) jumped to 0.60 last month from -0.07 during October. The latest level was the highest reached since November of 2012. As a result of the monthly gain, the three-month moving average improved to 0.25, its best level since February 2012. During the last ten years, there has been an 80% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Monthly changes in the index components were all positive. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours index showed the most m/m improvement with a surge to 0.28 from -0.05 while the Production & Income series also jumped to 0.39 from 0.07. The Sales, Orders & Inventories component notched up to 0.06 from 0.04 and the Personal Consumption & Housing index was -0.12 versus -0.13. The Chicago Fed reported that during November, 56 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the overall index while 29 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 Nov Oct Sep Nov'12 2012 2011 2010
CFNAI 0.60 -0.07 0.24 0.83 -0.07 -0.08 0.02
 3-Month Moving Average 0.25 0.12 0.00 0.13 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.12 -0.13 -0.18 -0.16 -0.22 -0.30 -0.30
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.28 -0.05 0.12 0.12 0.10 0.14 0.03
  Production & Income 0.39 0.07 0.16 0.65 0.04 0.05 0.20
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.06 0.04 0.14 0.21 -0.01 0.04 0.09
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