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Growth in Chicago-area business activity reaccelerated in the month of May after slowing over the two previous months, MNI Indicators revealed in a report released on Friday.
MNI Indicators said its Chicago business barometer rose to 54.2 in May after falling to a two-year low of 52.6 in April, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in regional business activity. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 53.7.
Despite the bigger than expected increase by the business barometer, MNI Indicators said the survey still points to softness in business activity, with the three-month average slipping to a two-year low.
"Furthermore, it is evident that business confidence in Q2 is going to be significantly weaker than Q1, which already was at sluggish levels," said MNI Indicators.
The rebound by the business barometer reflected increases by both the production and new orders indexes, with the new orders index rising for the first time in three months.
Meanwhile, the report said the employment index fell to its lowest level since October of 2017, reflecting weaker demand for labor amid the slower growth in demand and production seen since the turn of the year.
"Indicators are significantly below their last year averages but are moving towards their long-term means, implying that if business conditions are not as bright as they were, they are not bad either," said Shaily Mittal, Senior Economist at MNI.
MNI Indicators noted prices at the factory gate picked up a little following last month's double-digit decline amid a rise in the price of oil.