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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Improves
by Tom Moeller  May 21, 2015

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) during April moved up to -0.15 from -0.36, revised from -0.42. The three-month moving average remained negative at -0.23, the lowest indication since November 2012. During the last ten years, there has been a 76% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Two of the four component series improved last month. The Personal Consumption & Housing series became much less negative, rising to its best level since March 2014. The Employment, Unemployment and Hours figure returned to positive territory after one month negative. The Sales, Orders and Inventories series was little-changed at zero and the Production & Income figure was unchanged at a depressed -0.16. The three-month moving average of the CFNAI held fairly steady at its recent low, the weakest indication since October 2012. The Fed reported that 38 of the 85 component series made positive contributions to the total while 47 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 Apr Mar Feb Apr '14 2014 2013 2012
CFNAI -0.15 -0.36 -0.19 0.14 0.21 0.01 -0.05
 3-Month Moving Average -0.23 -0.27 -0.14 0.45 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.06 -0.12 -0.22 -0.12 -0.11 -0.14 -0.20
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.08 -0.08 0.12 0.21 0.18 0.10 0.09
  Production & Income -0.16 -0.16 -0.11 -0.04 0.11 0.03 0.06
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.00 0.01 0.02 0.04 0.04 0.03 -0.00
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