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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Indicators Improve
by Tom Moeller  June 21, 2012

The Leading Economic Indicator index from the Conference Board rose 0.3% last month after an unrevised 0.1% slip during April. A 0.1% increase had been expected. An improved 70% of the component series rose last month. That remained up versus last September when just 25% gained. Higher building permits and a steeper interest yield curve had the most meaningful positive effects on the overall leading index last month. These were followed by a higher ISM orders series, higher capital goods orders and lower claims for jobless insurance. The separate Leading Credit Index slipped to its lowest level this year and indicated tighter conditions versus the easy state of last summer and fall.

The index of coincident indicators rose 0.2% for a second month as higher manufacturing & trade sales led the gain with improved personal income and higher employment. Industrial output fell for the second month in the last three.

The index of lagging indicators rose 0.3% due mostly to higher C&I loans outstanding.

Another leading economic series is the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses and it's been falling since January of last year.

The Conference Board figures are available in Haver's BCI database; the components are available there, and most are also in USECON. The forecast figure for the Consensus are in the AS1REPNA database. Visit the Conference Board's site for coverage of leading indicator series from around the world.

Business Cycle Indicators (%) May Apr Mar Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Leading 0.3 -0.1 0.2 1.7 5.2 7.6 -12.8
Coincident 0.2 0.2 0.0 3.1 2.8 2.5 -7.7
Lagging 0.3 0.6 0.3 3.7 1.8 -2.9 -1.0
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