Chicago business activity index remains in contractionary territory for seventh straight month in March

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The Chicago Business Barometer, also known as the Chicago PMI, inched up 0.2 index points to 43.8 in March. It was the first increase since December.

The increase was unexpected. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal forecast a 43 reading. 

This is the seventh straight reading below the 50 threshold that indicates activity is contracting.

The index is produced by the ISM-Chicago with MNI. It is the last of the regional manufacturing indices before the closely-watched national Institute for Supply Management data for March is released on Monday.

So far, the regional data has shown that manufacturing activity has taken another leg down this month, according to economists at Contingent Macro. 

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