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Economy in Brief

OECD Leading Economic Index Up A Bit
by Tom Moeller February 14, 2005

The Leading Index of the Big 7 OECD economies nudged 0.1% higher in December after a revised 0.3% gain in November. The gains were the first after eight months of sideways movement. Perhaps more important, however, was that the six month growth rate in the index held at 0.8%. Though hardly indicative of a robust outlook, growth has been stable for three months at this upwardly revised level.

During the last ten years there has been a 69% correlation between the q/q change in the GDP Volume Index for the Big Seven countries in the OECD and the change in the leading index.

The leaders for the 15 countries in the European Union hesitated, with the six month growth rate falling to 1.6%, it's weakest since mid-2003. The French leaders' growth rate fell to 2.1% from the high of 8.4% early in 2004 and growth in the leaders for Germany held at 2.2%, down from 8.7% a year ago. The leaders' growth in Italy was negative for the eighth consecutive month but the Spanish leading index improved handily to a 3.1% rate of growth versus zero in July.

The leaders for the Japanese economy continued moderate improvement to a 0.8% growth rate versus negative growth in September but the leaders for the UK economy went negative.

Growth in the leading index for the US economy gained 0.4% in December for the second month following three months of decline. Six month growth improved to 0.9% from a low of 0.1% in October due to higher share prices, improved consumer sentiment and higher durable goods orders.

Visit the OECD.

OECD Growth from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

OECD  Dec Nov Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Composite Leading Index  102.35 102.24 1.2% 102.01 97.52 96.35
 6 Month Growth Rate 0.8% 0.9%   3.6% 2.5% 2.3%
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