National business activity growth slowed for March, 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 0.53 for February, this month's report puts business activity at 0.20. Although the month-to-month dip seems stark, analysts had expected a 0.20 reading. 

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Chart

From a longer-term perspective, the index's three-month moving average pointed to more positivity. From a revised -0.14 reading for February, the latest three-month moving average clocked in at an even 0.00 (in other words, on par with historical trends). 

According to the Chicago Federal Reserve, production-related indicators provided the main pull for March's index decline. Industrial production edged up just 0.7%, compared to 1.2% for February, while March manufacturing grew 0.5% after jumping 1.4% the month before.

Employment, consumption, and housing indicators all showed positive growth (or at least less contraction) from February to March.


Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.