DETROIT — Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index dipped slightly in March, declining half of a percentage point to 101.7.

The March index reading is 42 points, or 70 percent, above the index cyclical low of 59.9 reached at the bottom of the last recession.

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The index averaged 101 points in the first quarter of 2012, 10 points above the index average for all of 2011.

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“After jumping sharply higher in April, our Michigan Economic Activity Index dipped slightly in March, reflecting cooler auto sector activity. We expect the auto sector to remain vigorous through 2012, and we expect that Michigan will hang on to gains driven by rebounding auto sales and production,” said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. “Challenging global macroeconomic conditions remain a concern, as do expected cuts in federal defense spending. Recently choppy U.S. economic data is not expected to significantly impair domestic auto sales.”

The Michigan Economic Activity Index consists of seven variables, as follows: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production.  All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2004, which equals 100 on the index. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.

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