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Led by slower growth in employment-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index moved down to +0.08 in March from +0.27 in February. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from February, and one category made a negative contribution to the index in March. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to +0.03 in March from +0.16 in February, but remained positive for the fourth consecutive month.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, moved down to +0.11 in March from +0.15 in February. Forty-eight of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in March, while 37 made negative contributions. Thirty-seven indicators improved from February to March, while 47 indicators deteriorated and one was unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, ten made negative contributions.
The contribution from production-related indicators to the CFNAI was unchanged at +0.04 in March. Total industrial production rose 0.5 percent in March after edging up 0.1 percent in February, but manufacturing production declined 0.4 percent in March after increasing 0.3 percent in the previous month.
The sales, orders, and inventories category also made a positive contribution to the CFNAI in March, though this contribution ticked down to +0.07 from +0.09 in February. The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ New Orders Index edged down to 64.5 in March from 65.1 in February.
Employment-related indicators contributed +0.02 to the CFNAI in March, down from +0.20 in February. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 98,000 in March after rising by 219,000 in February. In contrast, the civilian unemployment rate.
The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI ticked up to –0.05 in March from –0.06 in February. Housing permits increased to 1,260,000 annualized units in March from 1,216,000 in February, while housing starts decreased to 1,215,000 annualized units in March from 1,303,000 in the previous month.