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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Business Barometer Rebounds; Price Strength Lessens
by Tom Moeller  November 30, 2018

The Chicago Purchasing Managers Business Barometer surged to 66.4 during November from an unrevised 58.4 in October. It was the highest level since December and followed three consecutive months of decline. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a reading of 59.4. The Chicago Purchasing Managers figures are diffusion indexes where readings above 50 indicate growth.

Haver Analytics constructs an ISM-Adjusted index with similar methodology as the ISM Composite Index. This index improved m/m to 63.1, but remained below earlier highs. During the last ten years, there has been a 61% correlation between the index level and the quarter-on-quarter change in real GDP.

A surge in the new orders and unfilled orders components led the improvement in the Business Barometer. The production and supplier delivery readings also rose. The latter indicated the slowest product delivery speeds since 2011. The inventories reading fell sharply to the lowest level since June.

The employment index strengthened m/m but remained below the high reached in January. During the last ten years, there has been a 79% correlation between the index level and the month-to-month change in factory sector payrolls. Twenty-eight percent (NSA) of survey respondents reported higher payroll levels while 17% (NSA) indicated lessened hiring.

The index of prices paid weakened for the fourth consecutive month. The reading of 73.2 was the lowest level since May and down from July's 82.1. A greatly lessened 44% of respondents reported higher prices while a steady four percent reported price declines. These figures are NSA.

The MNI Chicago Report is produced by MNI in partnership with ISM-Chicago. The survey covers a sample of over 200 purchasing professionals in the Chicago area with a monthly response rate of about 50%. Summary data are contained in Haver's USECON database, with detail including the ISM-style index in the SURVEYS database. The Action Economics Forecast Survey is available in AS1REPNA.

Monetary Policy Strategies for a Low-Neutral-Interest-Rate World is the title of today's speech by John C. Williams, President and CEO Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It is available here.

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (%, SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov '17 2017 2016 2015
General Business Barometer 66.4 58.4 60.4 65.6 60.8 53.1 50.3
ISM-Adjusted General Business Barometer 63.1 59.7 58.9 64.3 59.0 52.0 51.6
  Production 65.2 59.8 58.8 70.3 64.3 54.7 52.5
  New Orders 72.5 57.9 61.4 67.9 63.5 55.7 50.4
  Order Backlogs 62.9 51.2 61.9 58.2 55.2 47.2 44.4
  Inventories 53.7 60.2 60.6 59.1 54.9 47.2 52.1
  Employment 55.4 52.5 51.1 56.4 52.9 49.4 50.3
  Supplier Deliveries 68.7 68.3 62.5 68.0 59.4 52.8 52.6
  Prices Paid 73.2 75.1 79.9 68.9 64.0 53.2 46.8
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