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Chicago Fed National Activity Index Edges Up In April

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index was -2.06 in April, up from -3.36 in March. All four broad categories of indicators improved in April, but each continued to make a negative contribution to the index.
The three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased to -2.65 in April from -3.29 in the previous month, improving for the third consecutive month. April's CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was below its historical trend. With regard to inflation, it indicates low inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.
The increase in the index was primarily due to the production and income category, which made a much smaller negative contribution of -0.35 to the index in April compared with -1.09 in March. Total industrial production decreased 0.5% in April after declining 1.7% in the previous month.
Employment-related indicators also improved, with a contribution of -0.95 to the index in April compared with -1.44 in the previous month. Total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 539,000 in April, after declining 699,000 in March.
The consumption and housing category made a contribution of -0.60 to the index in April following a contribution of -0.63 in March. Housing starts decreased to 458,000 annualized units in April from 525,000 in the previous month. The sales, orders, and inventories category also made a negative contribution of -0.15 in April. The Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' New Orders Index increased to 47.2 in April from 41.2 in March.
Twenty-two of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the index in April, while 63 made negative contributions. Sixty-three indicators improved from March to April, while 21 indicators deteriorated. Of the improved indicators, 44 made negative contributions. The index was constructed using data available as of May 21, 2009. At that time, April data for 52 of the 85 indicators had been published. For all missing data, estimates were used in constructing the index.
The March monthly index was revised to -3.36 from an initial estimate of -2.96. Revisions to the monthly index can be attributed to two main factors: revisions in previously published data and differences between the estimates of previously unavailable data and subsequently published data. The downward revision to the March monthly index was primarily due to differences between the estimates of previously unavailable data and subsequently published data.

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