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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed National Activity Index Pulls Back
by Tom Moeller  January 23, 2014

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) reversed most of its earlier increase and fell to 0.16 last month from 0.69 during November. As a result of the monthly decline, the three-month moving average slipped to 0.33 but still was near the highest level since early 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 mostly negative. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours index showed the greatest m/m deterioration with a decline to 0.10 from 0.35 while the Production & Income series also backpedaled to 0.14 from 0.36. The Personal Consumption & Housing index fell to -0.15 versus -0.07 and the Sales, Orders & Inventories series was unchanged at 0.06. The Chicago Fed reported that during December, 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 Dec Nov Oct Dec'12 2013 2012 2011
CFNAI 0.16 0.69 0.12 0.14 0.00 -0.07 -0.07
 3-Month Moving Average 0.33 0.36 0.20 0.17 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.15 -0.07 -0.11 -0.14 -0.15 -0.21 -0.29
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.10 0.35 -0.02 0.10 0.08 0.10 0.14
  Production & Income 0.14 0.36 0.16 0.21 0.05 0.04 0.05
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.06 0.06 0.10 -0.02 0.03 -0.01 0.03
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