Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicago Fed: Economic activity weakened in April

by Calculated Risk on 5/23/2011 08:30:00 AM

From the Chicago Fed: Index shows economic activity weakened in April

Led by declines in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to –0.45 in April from +0.32 in March. April marked the lowest reading of the index since August 2010.
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The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, declined to –0.12 in April from +0.08 in March, turning negative for the first time since December 2010. April’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was somewhat below its historical trend. With regard to inflation, the CFNAI-MA3 suggests subdued inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.

Production-related indicators made a contribution of –0.16 to the index in April, down sharply from +0.31 in March. Manufacturing production decreased 0.4 percent in April after rising for nine consecutive months, and manufacturing capacity utilization declined to 74.4 percent in April from 74.8 percent in March. Parts shortages that resulted from the earthquakes in Japan contributed to a decline in motor vehicle and parts production.
Chicago Fed National Activity Index Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

This graph shows the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (three month moving average) since 1967. According to the Chicago Fed:
A zero value for the index indicates that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth; negative values indicate below-average growth; and positive values indicate above-average growth.
This index suggests the economy was still growing in April, but below trend.