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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for February 2020

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for February 2020:

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  • Actual (CFNAI): +0.16

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  • Previous Month (revised): -0.33
  • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): -0.21
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The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of growth in national economic activity drawn from four broad categories of data:

  • Production and income;
  • Employment, unemployment, and hours;
  • Personal consumption and housing; and
  • Sales, orders, and inventories.

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the yellow-highlighted figure is what was reported.

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Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index with Business Cycles - February 2020 Update
Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index with Business Cycles
February 2020 Update

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From Today's Report 


"...Index Suggests Economic Growth Slowed Further In October
The data through February were unlikely to have been affected much by the COVID-19 outbreak. Economic data for March will be incorporated in the next CFNAI released on April 20, 2020.

Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to +0.16 in February from –0.33 in January. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from January, and three of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in February. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to –0.21 in February from –0.11 in January..
."

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Understanding The CFNAI:

A zero value for the monthly index has been associated with the national economy expanding at its historical trend (average) rate of growth; negative values with below-average growth (in standard deviation units); and positive values with above-average growth.

Periods of economic expansion have historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 above -0.70 and the CFNAI Diffusion Index above -0.35. Conversely, periods of economic contraction have historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 below -0.70 and the CFNAI Diffusion Index below -0.35.

An increasing likelihood of a period of sustained increasing inflation has historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 above +0.70 more than two years into an economic expansion. Similarly, a substantial likelihood of a period of sustained increasing inflation has historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 above +1.00 more than two years into an economic expansion.

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