Monday 29 June 2009

Chicago Fed Activity Index Slips In May

Chicago Fed Activity Index Slips In May

By Doug Cameron

CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--A slip in production and income data drove a small month-on-month deterioration in a key U.S. business barometer, the Chicago Federal Reserve said Monday.

The bank's National Activity Index, or NAI, weakened to -2.30 in May from -2.27 in April, though the three-month rolling average improved to -2.67, its fourth straight gain.

The index is a compendium of existing and estimated economic data available as of June 26, and the prior-month index had been revised downward as some estimates proved to be overly optimistic.

The faster drop in U.S. industrial production during May - down 1.1% compared with a 0.7% decline in April - was cited by the Fed as the driving force for the weaker overall performance, with utilization in the manufacturing sector slipping to 65% from 65.6% in the prior month.

While the data add to recent Fed commentary about the absence of inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy and the rampant destocking that started at the end of 2008 has largely abated, early cycle indicators such as shipments of basic petrochemicals in the U.S. have slipped in recent weeks.

The three-month NAI of -2.67 compared with -2.73 in the prior month as just over half of its 85 components improved from April to May and more than a third made positive contributions.

Employment-related indicators also weakened during May, though the consumption and housing category made a modest recovery as housing starts increased, with sales, orders and inventories also moving close to positive territory.

-By Doug Cameron, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4135;


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June 29, 2009 08:30 ET (12:30 GMT)

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