Growth remained below historical trend in July but only slightly. The Chicago Fed's national activity index improved to minus 0.06 from an upwardly revised minus 0.38 in June (minus 0.46 first reported). The improvement is led by a plus 0.28 contribution from production-related indicators, well up from a very slight plus 0.03 contribution in June. Employment-related indicators came in at plus 0.05 vs June's minus 0.10. Consumption & housing was minus 0.33 in July, barely changed from minus 0.34 in June. Sales, orders & inventories are a negative in the month, at minus 0.06 vs June's plus 0.03.
The three-month moving average improved sharply in July, to minus 0.29 from minus 0.54 (upwardly revised from minus 0.60). Improvement in this report is of course welcome but whether it will extend into this month is uncertain given that July's strength is concentrated in manufacturing where early indications for August, that is from last week's Empire State and Philly Fed reports, are decidedly weak.