Led by declines in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) fell to –0.45 in April from +0.05 in March. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from March, and two of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in April. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, moved down to –0.32 in April from –0.24 in March.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, decreased to –0.22 in April from –0.16 in March. Thirty-three of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in April, while 52 made negative contributions. Thirty-seven indicators improved from March to April, while 48 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, 14 made negative contributions.
The contribution from production-related indicators to the CFNAI declined to –0.44 in April from –0.04 in March. Industrial production decreased 0.5 percent in April after increasing 0.2 percent in March. The sales, orders, and inventories category made a contribution of +0.01 to the CFNAI in April, down from +0.06 in March.
Employment-related indicators contributed +0.04 to the CFNAI in April, up slightly from +0.03 in March. The civilian unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in April from 3.8 percent in March. The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI moved down to –0.05 in April from a neutral value in March. On balance, consumption indicators weakened, pushing down the category’s overall contribution in April.
The CFNAI was constructed using data available as of May 16, 2019. At that time, April data for 50 of the 85 indicators had been published. For all missing data, estimates were used in constructing the index. The March monthly index value was revised to +0.05 from an initial estimate of –0.15, and the February monthly index value was revised to –0.57 from last month’s estimate of –0.31. Revisions to the monthly index can be attributed to two main factors: revisions in previously published data and differences between the estimates of previously unavailable data and subsequently published data. The revision to the March monthly index value was primarily due to the latter, while the revision to the February monthly index value was primarily due to the former.
Main image: In this May 2, 2019, file photo a worker arrives for his shift at the U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works in Clairton, Pa. On Wednesday, May 15, the Federal Reserve reports on U.S. industrial production for April. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)