Chicago Business Barometer Pulls Back More Than Expected In February

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MNI Indicators released a report on Friday showing a bigger than expected slowdown in the pace of growth in Chicago-area business activity in the month of February.

The report said MNI Indicators’ Chicago business barometer dropped to 59.5 in February after jumping to a more than two-year high of 63.8 in January.

While a reading above 50 still indicates growth in Chicago-area business activity, economists had expected the index to show a more modest decrease to 61.1.

The bigger than expected drop by the business barometer came as the new orders index tumbled by 11 points to its lowest level since last August. The production index also slumped by 9.3 points.

MNI Indicators said anecdotal evidence painted a mixed picture, with some firms experiencing a downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, while others report strong consumer demand.

Meanwhile, the report said the employment index jumped by 5.7 points to a sixteen-month high but remained in contraction territory.

The prices paid index also inched up by 0.1 points, reaching the highest level since September of 2018, as companies again noted increase in price for raw materials, especially tin.

MNI Indicators said 87.2 percent of respondents were undecided when asked if their organization would require their workforce and contingent labor to be vaccinated for the coronavirus.


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