CFNAI Shows U.S. Economy Remained Weak in February
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported that the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI)declined slightly to −0.89 in February from a downward revised -0.87 in January. The January revision, from –0.55 reported last month, largely reflected revisions to data for industrial production, capacity utilization, new orders, and payroll employment. To date, the weakness in the CFNAI has been concentrated in data related to the manufacturing sector of the economy. The three-month moving average index, CFNAI-MA3, was –0.81 in February, down slightly from a revised –0.78 in January. February was the eighth consecutive month that the CFNAI-MA3 was below zero, an indication of below-trend growth in the national economy and a sign of easing pressures on future inflation. The CFNAI-MA3 has been at or below –0.70 since December. Since 1967, index values within the –0.70 and –1.00 range have indicated an increasing probability that the economy is in a recession. While the likelihood of recession appears to have increased slightly, the February CFNAI-MA3 reading of –0.81 remains well above the –1.50 level seen in all recessions since 1967.