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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Deteriorates
by Tom Moeller  March 23, 2015

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for February declined to -0.11 from -0.10 in January, revised from +0.13. The three-month moving average also turned negative. The reading of -0.08 was the first below zero in twelve months. 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 were negative last month, the same as during the prior two months. The Personal Consumption & Housing series was negative 0.17, its weakest reading since January of last year. The Production & Income figure of -0.07 was the fourth number below zero in the last five months. At 0.02, the Sales, Orders and Inventories series remained weak. The Employment, Unemployment and Hours reading declined to 0.11, its lowest level in six months. The three-month moving average of the total deteriorated to -0.08, the first negative reading in a year. The Fed reported that 48 of the 85 component series made positive contributions to the total while 37 made negative contributions. This breadth of increase was the same as during January.

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 Feb Jan Dec Feb '14 2014 2013 2012
CFNAI -0.11 -0.10 -0.02 0.59 0.21 0.01 -0.05
 3-Month Moving Average -0.08 0.26 0.35 -0.12 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.17 -0.07 -0.13 -0.12 -0.11 -0.14 -0.20
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.11 0.16 0.23 0.08 0.18 0.10 0.09
  Production & Income -0.07 -0.20 -0.22 0.52 0.10 0.03 0.06
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.02 0.01 0.10 0.11 0.04 0.03 -0.00
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