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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Dion Rabouin/Axios Visuals

The Chicago Fed's National Activity Index showed the U.S. economy was growing above trend in April but had slowed significantly from March's big rebound, suggesting the economy is having a difficult time gaining traction for a sustained rebound.

By the numbers: April's 0.24 reading was down significantly from the 1.7 reading in March, which followed the first negative reading in almost a year for the index.

What it means: The Chicago Fed's index seeks to answer the question, "Is the economy growing at a rate faster than its potential or slower than its potential?" using a weighted average of 85 existing monthly indicators of U.S. economic activity.

  • The index is composed of four broad categories of data: production and income; employment, unemployment and hours; personal consumption and housing; and sales, orders and inventories.
  • It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one.

Watch this space: "The personal consumption and housing category contributed –0.06 to the CFNAI in April, down from +0.50 in March," the Chicago Fed said.

  • "The indicators in this category broadly deteriorated from March. The contribution of the employment, unemployment, and hours category to the CFNAI decreased to +0.05 in April from +0.38 in March."

Go deeper

What economists expect from the August jobs report

A man walks by a "Now Hiring" sign outside a store in Arlington, Va. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The next U.S. jobs report could be a big market-moving event.

Why it matters: The Fed wants to know if the U.S. labor market has made “substantial further progress,” the vague threshold that would give the FOMC the confidence to dial back some of its emergency bond purchase program.

40 mins ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

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