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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Indicators Slip
by Tom Moeller  September 20, 2012

The Leading Economic Indicator index from the Conference Board matched expectations and edged 0.1% lower last month. That followed a revised 0.5% July gain, initially reported as 0.4%. Sixty percent of the component series had a negative influence on the index last month including a lower ISM new orders index, lower consumer expectations, a shorter work week, more initial unemployment insurance claims and fewer building permits. These declines  were offset by a steeper interest rate yield spread, higher stock prices and more orders for non-defense capital goods less aircraft.

The index of coincident indicators ticked 0.1% higher following a 0.3% July gain. Gains in manufacturing and trade sales, payroll employment and real disposable income were offset by lower industrial output. The index of lagging indicators rose 0.2% following a lessened 0.3% July increase. A higher CPI for services and more C&I loans outstanding provided for the increase.

Another leading economic series is the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses. The figure held steady last month but remained sharply below its high during January 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 (%) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Leading -0.1 0.5 -0.5 2.1 5.2 7.6 -12.8
Coincident 0.1 0.3 -0.2 2.4 2.8 2.5 -7.7
Lagging 0.2 0.3 0.3 4.0 1.8 -2.9 -1.0
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