Monday, February 24, 2014

U.S. economic strength

A gauge of U.S. economic strength pointed to slowing growth in January, providing additional evidence the nation's production, consumption and housing sectors are skidding into 2014.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's National Activity Index, released Monday, fell to -0.39 in January from -0.03 in the prior month. The three-month moving average, designed to smooth out month-to-month volatility, also declined, falling to +0.10 last month from December's +0.26. The index is a weighted average of 85 indicators of economic activity nationwide. A reading above zero indicates growth above the nation's history trend.
Forty-four of the 85 individual indicators made a negative contribution to the monthly indicator, while 41 pushed it higher. The declines were focused in two areas. Production category fell to -0.36 in January, down from +0.06 in December. The consumption-and-housing category fell to -0.18 from -0.14 in the prior month. The employment and sales sectors saw their slight gains overwhelmed.