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Economy in Brief

OECD Leaders Up Again, Tone Firmer
by Tom Moeller May 10, 2004

The Index of Leading Indicators for the Major Seven OECD Countries suggested further economic growth with a 0.3% gain in March and a 0.3% February rise which was revised from the initial 0.1% uptick. March marked the twelfth consecutive monthly gain.

Six-month growth in the leading index continued at 7.2% versus the high of 8.1% in December.

Leaders in Japan surged 0.6% in March following no change in February. That lifted the six-month growth rate to 3.7%, the strongest since early 2000.

The leading index for the European Union also was strong showing a third consecutive 0.4% rise in March. The six month growth rate moved to 6.2%, near the cycle high.

Spain posted the strongest monthly increase since 1991. The 1.4% gain lifted six month to 5.2%, the highest in a year. The leaders in Italy jumped the most for any one month in over two years with a 0.6% gain. That pulled the six month growth rate to a respectable 2.7%. New orders have firmed and consumer confidence may have bottomed.

Leaders in Germany added 0.2% to an upwardly revised 0.1% uptick in February but the six-month growth rate fell to 7.08%. In France the leading index ticked up 0.1% following an upwardly revised 0.6% February gain. The six-month growth rate remained firm at 7.8%. Leaders in the UK were unchanged in March following two successive 0.4% gains. The six month growth rate remained firm at 4.2%.

In Canada the leading index fell 0.1% and the six-month growth dipped to 6.9% as share prices fell with consumer sentiment. Leading indicators in the United States rose just 0.2% but February was revised to 0.5% from 0.1% and the six-month growth rate remained firm at 10.1%.

Visit the OECD's website at this website.

Analysis from 2003 of inflation in OECD countries done by the US Federal Reserve Board can be found here.

OECD Main Economic Indicators Mar Feb Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
OECD Major Seven - Leading Index (Trend Restored) 121.5 121.1 7.7% 1.4% 2.1% -3.2%
  European Union 121.5 121.1 6.3% 1.9% 3.0% -1.9%
  Japan 102.7 102.1 3.4% 1.1% -0.5% -4.5%
  United States 134.1 133.7 11.3% 1.8% 2.6% -3.6%
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