Business Activity in U.S. Expands for First Time in Three Months

Business activity in the U.S. expanded in November for the first time in three months, showing superstorm Sandy is less damaging to the economy nationally.

The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer rose to 50.4 from 49.9 in October. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction. The median estimate of 53 economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the gauge would rise to 50.5.

The reading contrasts with earlier reports from the Philadelphia and New York region that showed the largest Atlantic storm ever to hit the U.S. had halted manufacturing in that part of the country. At the same time, the prospect that lawmakers will be unable to avert $607 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the beginning of 2013 may prevent the economy from strengthening further.

It’s “better than what we’ve been seeing,” Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, said before the report. The economy “is lukewarm right now.”

Projections in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 48 to 53.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at

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