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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Indicators Improve
by Tom Moeller  August 17, 2012

The Leading Economic Indicator index from the Conference Board rose 0.4% last month following a revised 0.4% June decline. A 0.2% gain was expected. Three quarters of the component series had a positive influence on the index last month including fewer initial claims for unemployment insurance, higher building permits, higher stock prices and a steeper interest rate yield curve. These gains were offset by lower consumer expectations for business/economic conditions and a lower ISM orders diffusion index.

The index of coincident indicators increased 0.3% following a 0.2% June gain. The rise was led by higher manufacturing and trade sales while improved payroll employment, higher real disposable income and higher industrial output provided lesser positive influences. The index of lagging indicators rose 0.4%, its strongest gain since April. A shorter average duration of unemployment and higher 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 rose minimally last month and 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.

Recent Weakness Sets Pace for Uncertain Second Half from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas can be found here.


Business Cycle Indicators (%) Jul Jun May Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Leading 0.4 -0.3 0.4 1.5 5.2 7.6 -12.8
Coincident 0.3 0.2 0.2 3.1 2.8 2.5 -7.7
Lagging 0.4 0.2 0.3 3.8 1.8 -2.9 -1.0
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