If you were expecting a federal funds rate hike from the Federal Reserve, you have likely noticed that economic data from the past 60 days has been stronger and stronger. Now there is a national report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago showing that economic growth increased in the month of February.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) increased to +0.34 in February from –0.02 in January. While all four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from January, only one of the four categories made a negative contribution to the index in February.
February’s gains were led by improvements in employment-related indicators, which contributed +0.21 points to the index in February, up from +0.06 in January.
As of March 17, 2017, February data for 51 of the 85 indicators had been published. For all missing data, estimates were used in constructing the index. The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity drawn from four broad categories:
- Production and income
- Employment, unemployment and hours
- Personal consumption and housing
- Sales, orders and inventories
The contribution from production-related indicators to the CFNAI edged up to +0.09 in February from +0.04 in January. The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI increased to –0.03 in February from –0.11 in January.
The index’s three-month moving average hit a +0.25 reading, the highest level since December 2014. The economic growth suggests limited inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year. The CFNAI Diffusion Index moved up to +0.17 in February from +0.02 in January.
Again, this is a national report, even though it is created inside of a regional Federal Reserve branch.