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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Indicates Improved Economic Growth
by Tom Moeller  August 25, 2014

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for July increased to 0.39 from 0.21 in June, revised from 0.12. The latest level was its highest since March. The three-month moving average improved to 0.25 and made up its prior month's decline. During the last ten years, there has been a 75% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Three of the four component series made positive contributions to the total. The Production & Income reading made the largest addition as it strengthened to its greatest level since February. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours figure also contributed positively but backpedaled to the May level. The Sales, Orders & Inventories component was positive but was roughly unchanged for the fourth straight month. The Personal Consumption & Housing series remained negative, to its least degree since March. The Chicago Fed reported that during July, an increased 53 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the overall index while 32 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 Jul Jun May  Jul'13 2013 2012 2011
CFNAI 0.39 0.21 0.14 -0.45 -0.01 -0.05 -0.07
 3-Month Moving Average 0.25 0.16 0.27 -0.17 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.10 -0.15 -0.15 -0.16 -0.15 -0.21 -0.29
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.13 0.26 0.13 0.01 0.09 0.10 0.13
  Production & Income 0.31 0.05 0.09 -0.26 0.02 0.04 0.05
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.05 0.06 0.06 -0.04 0.03 -0.01 0.03
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