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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Rebounds
by Tom Moeller  June 24, 2019

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported that its National Activity index rose to -0.05 during May following an April decline to -0.48. The three-month moving average increased to -0.17, its highest level since January. During the last ten years, there has been a 42% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

The National Activity Index Diffusion Index, which measures the breadth of movement in the monthly series, increased to -0.12, its highest level also since January. This measure remained, however, below the peak of 0.37 in December 2017.

Improvement in the May index was led by the Production & Income series which rose to 0.07, the first positive reading since December. The Sales, Orders & Inventories figure improved m/m to neutral. The Personal Consumption & Housing Measure ticked higher to -0.06. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours series returned to negative territory.

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 May Apr Mar May '18 2018 2017 2016
National Activity Index (percent) -0.05 -0.48 0.02 -0.41 0.19 0.15 -0.11
 3-Month Moving Average -0.17 -0.37 -0.27 0.11 -- -- --
Diffusion Index -0.12 -0.26 -0.21 0.20 0.19 0.08 -0.17
  Production & Income 0.07 -0.44 -0.04 -0.58 0.09 0.08 -0.06
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours -0.06 0.05 0.00 0.15 0.12 0.08 0.02
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.06 -0.08 0.03 0.00 -0.05 -0.05 -0.06
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.00 -0.02 0.03 0.02 0.03 0.05 -0.00
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