Monday, March 22, 2010

Chicago Fed: Economic Activity index decreased in February

by Bill McBride on 3/22/2010 08:30:00 AM

Note: This is a composite index based on a number of economic releases.

From the Chicago Fed: Index shows economic activity slowed in February

Led by declines in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index decreased to –0.64 in February, down from –0.04 in January. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index deteriorated, and only the sales, orders, and inventories category made a positive contribution.

The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to –0.39 in February from –0.13 in January, but for the second consecutive month, it was higher than at any point since December 2007. February’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was below its historical trend.
...
Most of the weakness in the index continued to stem from the consumption and housing category. ... Employment-related indicators also made a negative contribution to the index, contributing –0.16 to the index in February compared with –0.02 in January.
Chicago Fed National Activity Index Click on table for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (three month moving average) since 1967. According to the Chicago Fed:
A CFNAI-MA3 value below –0.70 following a period of economic expansion indicates an increasing likelihood that a recession has begun. A CFNAI-MA3 value above –0.70 following a period of economic contraction indicates an increasing likelihood that a recession has ended. A CFNAI-MA3 value above +0.20 following a period of economic contraction indicates a significant likelihood that a recession has ended.
According to Chicago Fed, it is still too early to call the official recession over - but with the three month average CFNAI-MA3 above -0.70, the likelihood that a recession has ended is increasing.