In March, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) was above zero for the second consecutive month. The monthly index came in at +0.06, down slightly from its upward revised
value of +0.08 in February. Before February, the index had been below zero for 19 consecutive
months. The positive February and March index values more than offset the slight negative
reading for January. As a result, the three-month moving average index, CFNAI-MA3, moved
into positive territory, rising to +0.03 in March from February’s upward revised value of –0.19.
This was the fourth consecutive improvement in the CFNAI-MA3 and followed 20 consecutive
months below zero. The steady improvement of the CFNAI-MA3 to a small positive value is a
strong indication from the index that the national economy has returned to trend growth. Index
values above zero, if sustained, signal increased inflationary pressures over the coming year.