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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Slip
by Tom Moeller  April 18, 2013

The index of Leading Economic Indicators, published by the Conference Board, ticked 0.1% lower (+1.7% y/y) during March following unrevised 0.5% increases during the prior two months. One-half of the component series had a positive influence on the index. Higher stock prices, a steeper interest rate yield curve and the leading credit index had the largest positive influences. These were offset by lower consumer expectations for business & economic conditions, fewer building permits, a lower ISM new orders index and a shorter average workweek.

The index of coincident indicators slipped 0.1% (+1.5% y/y) after a 0.5% February rise, initially reported as 0.2%. The decline in personal income less transfer payments offset marginal gains in industrial production, nonagricultural payrolls and manufacturing & trade sales.

The index of lagging economic indicators gained 0.3% but rose a firm 4.8% y/y. Fifty percent of the component series increased last month. A strong gain in the consumer installment credit/personal income ratio was countered by minimal change in the other component series.

Another leading economic series is the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses. The figure fell last month to its lowest level of the economic expansion.

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 (%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Leading -0.1 0.5 0.5 1.7 2.0 5.1 8.0
Coincident -0.1 0.5 -1.1 1.5 2.1 2.4 1.2
Lagging 0.3 0.0 1.7 4.8 3.6 2.7 -3.1
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