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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Jump
by Tom Moeller  March 20, 2014

The index of Leading Economic Indicators, published by the Conference Board, increased 0.5% (4.7% y/y) in February following a 0.1% January uptick, revised from 0.3%. A 0.2% rise was expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The breadth of component increase held steady m/m at a lessened 50%. A steeper interest rate yield curve, more building permits and the leading credit index worked to raise the overall index.

Countering this message of improvement was another slip in the ratio of coincident-to-lagging indicators. It fell to nearly its lowest level of the economic recovery. It measures how the economy is performing versus its excesses.

The index of coincident indicators gained 0.2% (2.2% y/y) after an unrevised 0.1% January uptick. Last month, each of the component series - payroll employment, personal income less transfers, manufacturing & trade sales and industrial production - made positive contributions to the index.

The index of lagging economic indicators improved 0.3% last month (3.0% y/y) following an upwardly revised 0.5% January increase. A surge in C&I loans outstanding, a higher consumer credit-to-income ratio and a stronger change in the services CPI had the largest positive impacts on the index.

The Conference Board figures are available in Haver's BCI database; the components are available there, and most are also in USECON. The forecast figures 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 2013 2012 2011
Leading 0.5 0.1 -0.1 4.7 3.4 2.2 5.3
Coincident 0.2 0.1 0.0 2.2 1.9 2.3 2.6
Lagging 0.3 0.5 0.4 3.0 3.8 3.4 2.3
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