Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) increased to -0.13 in July from -0.34 in June. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index improved from June, but only the production and income category made a positive contribution in July.
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The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased slightly from -0.18 in June to -0.21 in July – its fifth consecutive reading below zero. July’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was below its historical trend. The economic growth reflected in this level of the CFNAI-MA3 suggests subdued inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index also moved lower in July, ticking down to -0.05 from -0.02 in June. Forty-nine of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in July, while 36 made negative contributions. Fifty-six indicators improved from June to July, while 28 indicators deteriorated and one was unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, 15 made negative contributions.
The contribution from production-related indicators to the CFNAI increased to +0.12 in July from +0.01 in June. Total industrial production rose 0.6 percent in July after increasing 0.1 percent in June, and production of durable consumer goods rose 1.5 percent in July after edging up 0.1 percent in the previous month.
The contribution from the consumption and housing category to the CFNAI also increased in July, moving up to -0.22 from -0.28 in June. Housing starts decreased slightly to 746,000 annualized units in July from 754,000 in June, but housing permits rose to 812,000 annualized units from 760,000 over the same period.
The contribution from the sales, orders, and inventories category to the CFNAI was also higher in July, increasing to -0.01 from -0.09 in June.
The contribution from employment-related indicators to the CFNAI decreased in July, moving down to -0.03 from +0.02 in June. Civilian employment decreased by 0.1 percent in July after increasing by a similar amount in June, and the unemployment rate inched up to 8.3 percent in July after holding steady in June.