CHICAGO (Dow Jones/AP) - U.S. economic growth continued to trend below average in May amid weakness across all categories, but the economy improved from April, according to data released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index for May was -0.22, up from the April reading of -0.30. The April figure was revised downward from a previously reported -0.10, the Chicago Fed said.
''With the index remaining somewhat below zero, the CFNAI shows a continued low level of resource pressures on inflation,'' said Charles Evans, research director at the Chicago Fed.
The three-month moving average for the index, which the Chicago Fed says provides a more consistent picture of national economic growth given the volatility in monthly readings, was -0.20 in May, compared with -0.22 in April. The May reading indicates little inflationary pressure over the coming year, the Chicago Fed said.
Federal Reserve officials have reiterated recently that inflation remains the Fed's predominant policy concern. Economic data reports released in recent weeks have been somewhat mixed, leading the market to expect the Fed to not move its benchmark interest anytime soon.
The Federal Open Market Committee has held the key federal funds rate at 5.25 percent for its last seven policy-setting meetings, and is widely expected to do so again at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Thursday.
Meantime, according to the Chicago Fed's release Monday, all the categories comprising the index - production, employment, housing and consumption, and sales, orders and inventories - made negative contributions.
Production-related indicators were -0.10 in May, versus 0.05 in April. The Chicago Fed noted that industrial production remained flat in May after rising 0.4 percent in April, and that manufacturing capacity utilization edged down to 79.9 percent in May, from 80 percent in April.
Employment-related indicators were -0.07 in May, an improvement from -0.23 the previous month, as the Chicago Fed noted that non-farm payroll employment added 157,000 jobs in May, compared with the 80,000 gain in April.
Consumption and housing indicators were a negative contributor of -0.04 in May, versus -0.08 in April. Additionally, the sales, orders and inventories category was -0.01 in May, after being -0.05 in April.
Overall, 59 of the 85 individual indicators used to measure the index made negative contributions, while 26 were positive contributors. The report was constructed with data available as of June 21, when 52 of the 85 indicators had been published. Estimates are used for unavailable data in constructing the index.