Economists predicted a strong July reading for the Chicago Fed National Activity Index. What they found was a slightly negative reading of -0.01 vs an Econoday consensus estimate of +0.22.

Highlights

Held down by flat readings throughout, July was surprisingly weak based on the national activity index which came in at minus 0.01 to indicate fractionally lower-than-normal growth in the month. July’s production component fell to minus 0.02 from plus 0.03 in June as manufacturing production dropped slightly; the employment component, at plus 0.09, was the strongest contributor in the month though down from 0.13 in June; the consumer & housing component fell 0.06 as permits fell back once again; and sales/orders/inventories sank to minus 0.01 from plus 0.06. Manufacturing production and housing permits once again undercut what was otherwise a solid month for the economy.

Recent History

July was a strong month for payroll growth and an especially solid one for retail sales, both of which are certain to give a lift to the national activity index. Housing permits, however, will be a key negative and are holding down the consensus, which calls for 0.22 vs June’s 0.13.

Eclipse

Regular readers know I went to Southern Illinois to see the eclipse. It was an amazing event, but compared to images I have seen of past events, this one would not rate high.

We did have a reasonably clear sky but the corona and length of the flares did not reach out far. I suspect there was simply too much moisture in the air, with little flare activity to begin with.

It took six hours to get there, ten to come home. It was the worst traffic jam I have ever seen.

I got up at 5 AM on three hours sleep, was at the eclipse site until 2:30 PM, and then it took 10 hours to get home. I am tired.

Back to my regular schedule sometime reasonably soon.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock