Led by improvements in indicators related to production and personal consumption and housing, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to +1.71 in March from -1.20 in February. All four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index made positive contributions in March, and all four categories improved from February. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased to +0.54 in March from +0.07 in February.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, moved up to +0.40 in March from +0.22 in February. Seventy of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in March, while 15 made negative contributions. Sixty-nine indicators improved from February to March, while 16 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, seven made negative contributions.
Production-related indicators contributed +0.63 to the CFNAI in March, up from –1.04 in February. Manufacturing production rose 2.7 percent in March after falling 3.7 percent in February, and manufacturing capacity utilization increased by 1.9 percentage points in March. The contribution of the sales, orders, and inventories category to the CFNAI moved up to +0.11 in March from –0.06 in February. The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing New Orders Index rose to 68.0 in March from 64.8 in the previous month.
The personal consumption and housing category contributed +0.63 to the CFNAI in March, up from –0.21 in February. The indicators in this category broadly improved from February. The contribution of the employment, unemployment, and hours category to the CFNAI increased to +0.34 in March from +0.12 in February. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 916,000 in March after increasing by 468,000 in February, and the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points in March.