Chicago-area business activity unexpectedly increased at a faster rate in the month of February, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago on Thursday, with the business barometer rising to its highest level in almost a year.
The report said the Chicago business barometer rose to 56.8 in February from 55.6 in January, with a reading above 50 indicating an increase in business activity. The increase came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the barometer to edge down to 55.0.
With the unexpected increase, the Chicago business barometer rose to its highest level since March of last year.
An acceleration in the pace of new orders growth contributed to the increase by the business barometer, with the new orders index climbing to 60.2 in February from 58.2 in January.
The order backlogs index also climbed to 50.9 in February from 46.6 in January, while the supplier deliveries index inched up to 50.3 from 49.9.
On the other hand, the report also showed that the production index edged down to 60.2 in February from 60.9 in January.
The employment index also dipped to 55.7 in February from 58.0 in January, indicating a slowdown in the pace of Chicago-area job growth.
With regard to inflation, the prices paid index rose to 61.8 in February from 60.7 in January, pointing to a modest acceleration in the pace of price growth.
Friday morning, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release its report on national manufacturing activity in the month of February.
Economists expect the ISM's manufacturing index to dip to 52.8 in February from 53.1 in January, although a reading above 50 would indicate continue growth in the manufacturing sector.
by RTT Staff Writer
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