Doug Short: “Index shows economic growth decelerated slightly in June”: This is the headline for today’s release of the Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index, and here are the opening paragraphs from the report:
Led by slower growth in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) edged down to +0.12 in June from +0.16 in May. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index made nonpositive contributions to the index in June, but two of the four categories increased from May.
The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to +0.13 in June from +0.28 in May, marking its fourth consecutive reading above zero. June’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was somewhat above its historical trend. The economic growth reflected in this level of the CFNAI-MA3 suggests limited inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, decreased to +0.18 in June from +0.33 in May. Forty-four of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in June, while 41 made negative contributions. Forty indicators improved from May to June, while 43 indicators deteriorated and two were unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, 12 made negative contributions. [Download PDF News Release]
Investing.com was looking for a headline index increase to 0.18.
Background on the CFNAI
The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index (CFNAI) is a monthly indicator designed to gauge overall economic activity and related inflationary pressure. It is a composite of 85 monthly indicators as explained in this background PDF file on the Chicago Fed’s website. The index is constructed so a zero value for the index indicates that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth. Negative values indicate below-average growth, and positive values indicate above-average growth.
The first chart below shows the recent behavior of the index since 2007. The red dots show the indicator itself, which is quite noisy, together with the 3-month moving average (CFNAI-MA3), which is more useful as an indicator of the actual trend for coincident economic activity. I’ve added a high-low channel for the MA3 data since 2010. As we can see, the MA3 of the index hit the top of the channel in November of last year. After dipping near the mid-range of the channel, it has moved back near the top.
For a broad historical context, here is the complete CFNAI historical series dating from March 1967.