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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Rise Again
by Tom Moeller   April 21, 2011

The Conference Board reported that its Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.4% in March after an upwardly revised February gain of 1.0%, originally reported at 0.8%. Consensus expectations were for a 0.3% increase during last month. The latest was the ninth consecutive monthly increase. The three-month growth in the series of 6.6% (AR) was down from its early-2010 high of 10.8%.

The breadth of increase among the components, measured by the 1-month diffusion index, fell to 60%, down from its 80% peak last month. A steeper yield curve, higher building permits and higher vendor performance (slower delivery speeds) were the main contributors to last month's index rise. These gains were offset mostly by a drop in consumer expectations.

The index of coincident indicators moved 0.2% higher in March after a downwardly revised 0.1% February increase. The three-month annualized rate of change was 3.2%, down from its recent high of 4.0%. Each of the four component series contributed to the March increase.

The lagging index rose 0.4% in March, the third increase in the last four months. Strength has been led by higher C&I loans. The ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators, which tends to "lead" the "leaders" slipped m/m 95.0%.

The Conference Board figures are available in Haver's BCI database; the components are available there and most are also in USECON. Visit the Conference Board's site for coverage of leading indicator series from around the world.

Business Cycle Indicators(%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Leading 0.4 1.0 0.2 5.1 7.8 0.3 -3.1
Coincident 0.2 0.1 0.5 2.6 1.1 -5.4 -1.3
Lagging 0.4 0.3 -0.4 1.1 -2.9 -1.9 3.1
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