Housing permits increased to the highest level in more than four years, reaching 899,000 annualized units in November, up from 868,000 in October, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

However, housing starts declined to 861,000 annualized units in November from 888,000 the previous month. The consumption and housing category is showing signs of improvement with the Chicago Fed National Activity Index measure for that category falling only 0.19 in November, compared to its 0.25 drop in October.

The index is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity drawn from four categories of data including personal consumption and housing. 

Overall, the CFNAI increased to a growing 0.10 in November from a falling 0.64 in October.

The growth indicates "subdued inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year."

Click on the graph to view the three-month moving average of the CFNAI.