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Economy in Brief

OECD Leading Economic Index Up Again
by Tom Moeller March 14, 2005

The Leading Index of the Big 7 OECD economies rose 0.2% in January for the third consecutive month. The steady rise lifted six month growth in the index to its best since September.

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 leading index for the US economy provided the lift to the OECD composite as it increased 0.6% in January for the third consecutive monthly rise following three down months. Six month growth improved to 1.9% from a low of 0.1% in October due to higher share prices, consumer sentiment and construction which offset a tighter yield curve.The leaders for Japan stuttered with no change in January but six month at 1.3% remained up from zero in September due to gains in share prices and construction that offset a tighter yield curve.

Growth in the leaders for the UK economy went even more negative as higher short term interest rates and poorer export prospects offset increases in consumer confidence and share prices.The Canadian leaders rose for the first month following seven consecutive months of decline and growth remained a negative 2.2%.

A second 0.1% monthly decline in the leaders for the European Union (15 countries) pulled the six month growth rate to 0.9%, it's weakest since mid-2003. Growth in the leaders for Germany dropped to 1.5%, down from 8.6% in December 2003, due to a negative yield curve, a poor business climate and a negative orders inflow. The French leaders' also steadily deteriorated and growth went slightly negative versus the high of 8.4% early in 2004 due to a tighter yield curve and few job vacancies The leaders' in Italy fell 0.2% for the second month and six month growth fell to -0.5% due to higher short term interest rates, negative consumer confidence and deteriorating terms of trade.

The latest OECD Leading Indicator report can be found here.

This 2003 report from the US Federal Reserve Board gives An Empirical Analysis of Inflation in OECD Countries.

OECD Jan Dec Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Composite Leading Index  102.54 102.32 1.0% 101.97 97.50 96.34
 6 Month Growth Rate 1.0% 0.8%   3.6% 2.5% 2.3%
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