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Economy in Brief

ECRI Leading Index of U.S. Economy Up
by Tom Moeller March 21, 2005

The Weekly Leading Index of the US economy from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose 0.5% in the latest week, continuing the moderate growth of the prior two weeks. The six month growth rate of 3.5% was the strongest in nearly a year.

The latest increase was due to a rise in mortgage applications and lower claims for jobless insurance.

During the last ten years there has been a 69% correlation between six-month growth in the ECRI leading index and two quarter growth in real U.S. GDP.

The components of the ECRI weekly leading index are money supply plus stock & bond mutual funds, the JOC-ECRI industrial materials price index, mortgage applications, bond quality spreads, stock prices, bond yields, and initial jobless insurance claims.

The ECRI Leading Index's recent pattern generally mirrors the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators, with a slight lead. Construction of the ECRI Leading Index differs from the Conference Board Index but there has been a 70% correlation between the y/y percent change in the two series over the last 10 years.

The median lead of the ECRI index at business cycle peaks has been 10.5 months and at cycle troughs 3.0 months.

The latest from ECRI is available here.

ECRI Leading Index 03/11/05 03/04/05 Growth Rate 2004 2003 2002
Weekly 135.9 135.2 3.6% 4.2% 6.7% 1.1%
  Feb Jan        
Monthly 134.4 132.7 2.1%      
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