The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) declined to +0.10 in March from +0.98 in February. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from February, but two of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in March. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to +0.27 in March from +0.31 in February.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, edged down to +0.18 in March from +0.20 in February. Forty-four of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in March, while 41 made negative contributions. Twenty-five indicators improved from February to March, while 59 indicators deteriorated and one was unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, nine made negative contributions.
Production-related indicators contributed +0.14 to the CFNAI in March, down from +0.54 in February. Total industrial production increased 0.5 percent in March after increasing 1.1 percent in February. The sales, orders and inventories category made a contribution of +0.04 to the CFNAI in March, down from +0.14 in February. The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing New Orders Index decreased to 61.9 in March from 64.2 in the previous month.
Employment-related indicators contributed –0.07 to the CFNAI in March, down from +0.35 in February. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 103,000 in March after increasing by 326,000 in February. The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI moved up to –0.01 in March from –0.06 in February. Housing starts increased to 1,319,000 annualized units in March from 1,295,000 in February, and housing permits increased to 1,354,000 annualized units in March from 1,321,000 in the previous month.