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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed National Activity Index Continues To Improve
by Tom Moeller  April 21, 2014

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to 0.20 last month following its February recovery to 0.53, revised from 0.14. The latest reading remained down, nevertheless, versus November's high of 0.66. Despite its recent improvement, the three-month moving average was a neural 0.00. During the last ten years, there has been an 80% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

The Production & Income reading retraced some of the prior month's recovery with a decline to 0.21 from 0.54. Also down was the Sales, Orders & Inventories series to -0.02 from 0.08. Offsetting these declines was modest improvement in the Personal Consumption & Housing reading to -0.13 from -0.17. Also up was the Employment, Unemployment & Hours index which increased to 0.14 from 0.07. The Chicago Fed reported that during March, 51 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the overall index while 34 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'13 2013 2012 2011
CFNAI 0.20 0.53 -0.74 -0.26 -0.01 -0.05 -0.07
 3-Month Moving Average 0.00 -0.14 -0.09 -0.09 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.13 -0.17 -0.21 -0.14 -0.15 -0.21 -0.29
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.14 0.07 0.11 0.03 0.09 0.10 0.13
  Production & Income 0.21 0.54 -0.40 0.08 0.02 0.04 0.05
  Sales, Orders & Inventories -0.02 0.08 -0.23 -0.22 0.03 -0.01 0.03
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