Chicago Business Barometer Drops 3.9 points In March

Written by Sandy Williams

The March Chicago Business Barometer slid to its lowest level since August, down 3.9 points to 55.9. The Barometer averaged 58.4 during the first quarter of 2014 indicating recovery but was down from the 2.5 year high of 63.3 in Q4 2013. First quarter results were likely impacted by the harsh weather during the quarter.

New orders softened for the second month in a row indicating weaker demand. Order Backlogs were at their lowest level since September.

A strong rise in Production helped steady the Barometer as other components weakened. Supplier Deliveries also expanded at a faster rate in March.

Employment dropped sharply, erasing February double digit gains. A reliance on temporary workers in the past four months was offered as a reason for employment losses.

The index for Inventory of Finished Goods fell into contraction and to the lowest reading since July 2013. Prices Paid also dropped for the second month in a row.

“March saw a significant weakening in activity following a five month spell of firm growth. It’s too early to tell, though, if this is the start of a sustained slowdown or just a blip,” said Philip Uglow, Chief Economist of MNI Indicators. “Panellists, though, were optimistic about the future. Asked about the outlook for demand over the next three months, the majority of businesses said they expected to
see a pick-up.”

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