Chicago Business Barometer Slips in April

Written by Sandy Williams

The Chicago Business Barometer, or Chicago PMI, dropped 3.2 points to 50.4 in April indicating a slow start to the second quarter. New orders and order backlogs both fell sharply during the month.

Inventories, which have been relatively stable in the past few months, increased to their highest point since October 2015 but were still in contraction overall.

Production picked up slightly while the supplier deliveries index increased sharply to its highest level since October 2014. Higher oil and raw material prices led to a jump in prices paid in April.

The employment index moved downward into contraction.

Chief Economist of MNI Indicators Philip Uglow said, “This was a disappointing start to the second quarter, with the Barometer barely above the neutral 50 mark in April. Against a backdrop of softer domestic demand and the slowdown abroad, panelists are now more worried about the impact a rate hike might have on business than they were at the same time last year.”

In the special question section, panelists were more concerned or uncertain about federal rate hikes than they were in April of 2015.

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