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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Continue To Firm
by Tom Moeller  March 21, 2013

The index of Leading Economic Indicators, published by the Conference Board, increased 0.5% (2.0% y/y) during February after a revised 0.5% January increase, initially reported as 0.2%. Eighty percent of the component series had a positive influence on the index. A steeper interest rate yield curve, the leading credit index, more building permits and a longer average workweek were the primary drivers of last month's gain. These were offset by lower consumer expectations for business & economic conditions and fewer real orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft.

The index of coincident indicators gained 0.2% (1.4% y/y) in February after a revised 1.0% January decline, earlier reported as a 0.4% rise. The increase in industrial production and the rise in nonagricultural payrolls had the largest positive influences on the index last month, followed by marginal gains in business sales and personal income less transfers.

The index of lagging economic indicators ticked up 0.1% but rose a firm 4.6% y/y. A still-strong 64.3% of the component series increased last month. Minimal m/m gains in most of the component series were offset by a decline in the average duration of unemployment.

Another leading economic series is the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses. The figure ticked slightly higher last month but the previously reported large January increase was revised away.

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 (%) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Leading 0.5 0.5 0.4 2.0 2.0 5.1 8.0
Coincident 0.2 -1.0 0.9 1.4 2.1 2.4 1.2
Lagging 0.1 1.6 0.0 4.6 3.6 2.7 -3.1
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