The Chicago Business Barometer rose to 67.6 in December, its highest since March 2011, from 63.9 in November.

The data is compiled on a seasonally adjusted basis. An index reading below 50 signals a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion.

IFR Markets predicted a 63.0 reading for the index.

“On a calendar quarter basis, the Barometer rose to 65.9 in Q4 from 61.0 in Q3, the best quarterly performance since Q1 2011,” according to a release, “only the third time in the last decade there have been three consecutive above-60 readings in the Oct-Dec period.”

“Both output and demand showed strong gains in December, with each rising to multi-year highs,” the release noted. “The Production indicator rose to a level last seen higher 34 years ago, while the New Orders Indicator hit a three-and-a-half year high. As for the other three indicators that comprise the Barometer, Order Backlogs also grew, but Employment and Supplier Deliveries fell on the month.”

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