A report released by MNI Indicators on Thursday showed a much bigger than expected increase by its reading on Chicago-area business activity in the month of March.
MNI Indicators said its Chicago business barometer jumped to 62.9 in March from 56.3 in February, with a reading above 50 indicating growth. Economists had expected the business barometer to inch up to 57.0.
The bigger than expected advance by the business barometer came as all main indicators increased, with the inventories index and the new orders seeing the largest boost.
The inventories index surged to a nearly 50-year high of 68.7 in March from 57.3 in February, as firms stocked up due to ongoing supply chain disruptions.
The report showed the new orders index also shot up to 61.9 in March from 53.0 in February, while the production index rose to 60.0 from 55.4.
The employment index also climbed to 48.1 in March from 43.5 in February, although a reading below 50 still indicates a contraction.
Meanwhile, MNI Indicators said the prices paid index edged down to a still elevated 12-month low of 85.7 in March from 86.5 in February.