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Chicago Business Barometer Unexpectedly Indicates Faster Contraction In November

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MNI Indicators released a report on Wednesday showing Chicago-area business activity unexpectedly contracted at an accelerated rate in the month of November.

The report showed the Chicago business barometer tumbled to 37.2 in November from 45.2 in October, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction. The decrease surprised economists, who had expected the Chicago business barometer to inch up to 47.0.

With the unexpected slump, the Chicago business barometer fell to its lowest reading since the 2008/09 global financial crisis, excluding the 2020 pandemic shock.

The steep drop by the headline index came as the production index plunged to 35.9 in November from 45.1 in October, while the new orders index dove to 30.7 in November from 39.2 in October.

The order backlogs index also plummeted to 36.1 in November from 47.3 in October, as firms are quickly working through outstanding customer orders amid the continued weakening in new orders.

MNI Indicators said the prices paid index also slumped to 66.2 in November from 74.8 in October, signaling a continued slowdown in price growth.

Meanwhile, the report said the employment index inched up to 47.1 in November from 45.6 in October, although the reading below 50 still indicates a loss of jobs.

The inventories index also rose to 59.8 in November from 56.9 in October, as firms were actively looking to normalize levels of stock but weak demand conditions made it difficult to bring down inventory levels.

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