Chicago-area business activity unexpectedly grew at a faster rate in the month of January, according to a report released by MNI Indicators on Friday.
MNI Indicators said its Chicago business barometer jumped to 63.8 in January from a downwardly revised 58.7 in December, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in regional business activity.
The increase by the business barometer surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to 58.5 from the 59.5 originally reported for the previous month.
With the unexpected increase, the Chicago business barometer reached its highest level since July of 2018.
The continued advance by the headline index came as the production index spiked by 9.9 points to its highest level since January of 2018.
The new orders index also surged up by 7.9 points to its highest level November of 2018, reflecting an improvement in demand.
On the other hand, the report said the employment index slid by 4.5 points, remaining below 50 for the nineteenth straight month.
MNI Indicators also asked respondents how the recent increase in Covid-19 infection rates is affecting business.
Fifty percent reported a mild negative impact, while 31.8 percent had no impact on their activity and 15.9 percent noted a strong negative effect. Just 2.3 percent saw a strong positive impact.