The Midwest Economy Index gained to 0.27 in March from 0.21 in February, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported Friday.

The relative MEI posted a 0.01 reading in March, off from a 0.04 reading in February.

Manufacturing contributed 0.24 to the index in March, after a 0.15 addition in February, while adding 0.10 to the relative MEI, after a 0.03 contribution in February.

Construction and mining took 0.06 from MEI in the month, after subtracting 0.09 in February, while adding 0.01 to relative MEI in March after subtracting 0.03 in February.

The service sector contributed 0.11 to MEI in March after adding 0.14 in February, while taking 0.02 from relative MEI in March after contributing 0.08 in February.

Consumer spending subtracted 0.02 from MEI in March, after contributing 0.01 in February, while subtracting 0.08 from relative MEI, after subtracting 0.04 in February.

By state, Michigan made the largest contributions in March, 0.10, with Iowa adding 0.09, Wisconsin contributing 0.07, Indiana neutral, and Illinois at negative 0.03.

The index is a weighted average of 128 state and regional indicators encompassing the five states in the Seventh Federal Reserve District (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin). The index measures growth in nonfarm business activity.

A zero value for the MEI indicates that the Midwest economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth; negative values are associated with below-trend growth while positive values indicate above-trend growth. A zero value for the relative MEI indicates that the Midwest economy is growing at a rate historically consistent with the growth of the national economy; positive values indicate above-average relative growth; and negative values indicate below-average relative growth.

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