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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Indicator Gain Moderates
by Tom Moeller  April 19, 2012

The Leading Economic Indicator index from the Conference Board rose 0.3% last month after an unrevised 0.7% gain during February. A 0.2% increase had been expected. Last month a robust 70% of the series' components rose. That compares favorably to last September's low of 25%. A steeper interest rate yield curve, more building permits and higher stock prices had the largest effects raising the overall leading index. The separate Leading Credit Index slipped for the third straight month and indicated tighter conditions versus the easy state of last summer and fall.

The index of coincident indicators again rose 0.2%. Higher manufacturing & trade sales, increased payroll employment and improved personal income made positive contributions to the index change last month. Industrial production was unchanged for the second consecutive month.

The index of lagging indicators, designed to measure economic slack, rose 0.3% after a 0.1% February uptick.

Another leading economic series is the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses and was unchanged during the past 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 (%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Leading 0.3 0.7 0.2 2.1 5.1 7.6 -12.8
Coincident 0.2 0.2 0.1 2.5 2.8 2.5 -7.7
Lagging 0.3 0.1 0.5 3.8 1.8 -2.9 -1.0
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