- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

CHICAGO, Feb. 27 (UPI) — The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said Thursday its national activity index moved into positive territory in January for the first time in six months. The regional Fed said the index improved to 0.38 from a minus 0.62 in December.

The three-month moving average index remained negative at minus 0.19 but that was an improvement from December's minus 0.59, the Fed said.

The Chicago Fed said that the three-month reading suggested the economy continued to expand in January, but at a pace somewhat below its historical trend.

Index readings below zero also signaled reduced inflationary pressures over the coming year. Zero values in the index indicate a national economy expanding at historical trends, while negative values indicate below-trend growth and positive values signal growth above trend, the Chicago Fed said.

The 85 economic indicators that comprise the index are drawn from five categories: production and income; employment, unemployment and hours; personal consumption, housing starts and sales; manufacturing and trade sales; and inventories and orders.

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