Chicago-area business activity contracted at a slightly slower rate in the month of July, according to a report released by MNI Indicators on Monday.
MNI Indicators said its Chicago business barometer inched up to 42.8 in July from 41.5 in June, although a reading below 50 still indicates a contraction. Economists had expected the index to rise to 43.0.
The uptick by the Chicago business barometer partly reflected increases by the new orders and production indices.
While the new orders index climbed by 3.4 points, MNI Indicators said the increase masked the fact that the proportion of respondents reporting an increase in new orders in June was actually the lowest of the year.
The production index also rose by 2.5 points or 45.1. The proportion of respondents citing higher production was the same level as in June but fewer noted reduced production.
Meanwhile, the report said the employment index fell by 5.9 points, recording just the second reading below 40 this year.
MNI Indicators said the prices paid jumped 8.6 points to 62.1, with broadly the same proportion reporting higher prices in July as in June but only 4 percent of respondents seeing lower prices.