National business activity grew faster than expected for February, according to a Chicago Federal Reserve National Activity Index released (link opens as PDF) today. 

Based on a weighted average of 85 different indicators, the Chicago Fed Index provides an overall picture of our nation's economy. An above-zero reading denotes economic expansion, while a negative number implies contraction.

After clocking in at a revised -0.45 for cold and stormy January, February's report puts business activity back in growth territory at 0.14. Analysts had expected a slightly more subdued 0.10 reading. From a longer-term perspective, however, the index's three-month moving average fell 0.2 points to -0.18. 

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Chart

Chicago Fed National Activity Index data by YCharts

While three of the index's four broader categories made gains for February, production provided the main push behind the improvement. Production-related indicators added on 0.26 to the overall index, compared to a 0.38 subtraction the month before. Manufacturing made up most of its lost ground, expanding 0.8% after a 0.9% decline in January.

Employment pulled a slight 0.02 off the index after adding 0.11 the previous month, while housing knocked off 0.16 after subtracting 0.19 in January.


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