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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Indicators Recover
by Tom Moeller  October 18, 2012

The Leading Economic Indicator index from the Conference Board increased 0.6% last month following a 0.4% August decline, initially estimated at -0.1%. Sixty five percent of the component series had a positive influence on the index last month, notably more building permits, a steeper interest rate yield curve and higher stock prices. These increases were offset by more initial claims for unemployment insurance, a lower ISM new orders diffusion index and lower consumer expectations for business & economic conditions.

The index of coincident indicators gained 0.2% after no change in September, initially reported as a 0.1% uptick. Each of the four component series had a positive influence on the total, notably manufacturing and trade sales. The index of lagging indicators rose 0.1% following an increased 0.3% August increase. A stronger CPI for services offset fewer commercial & industrial loans outstanding.

Another leading economic series is the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses. The figure improved slightly 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. 

Policy Initiatives in the Global Recession: What Did Forecasters Expect? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.


Business Cycle Indicators (%) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Leading 0.6 -0.4 0.4 2.9 5.2 7.6 -12.8
Coincident 0.2 0.0 0.6 2.8 2.8 2.5 -7.7
Lagging 0.1 0.3 0.3 4.2 1.8 -2.9 -1.0
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