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Economy in Brief

U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Rise Moderately in March
by Tom Moeller  April 21, 2022

• Component increases are mixed.

• Coincident indicators continue to rise.

• Lagging indicators strengthen.

The Conference Board's Composite Leading Economic Indicators index increased 0.3% during March (6.4% y/y) after rising 0.6% in February, revised from 0.3%. The gain matched expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The Leading Index is comprised of 10 components which tend to precede changes in overall economic activity.

Seven of the index components contributed positively to the March increase including the length of the average workweek, initial unemployment insurance claims, factory orders for consumer goods, nondefense capital goods orders, building permits, the spread between the 10-year Treasury bond & Fed funds rate and the leading credit index. Consumer expectations for business & economic conditions, the ISM orders index and stock prices contributed negatively to the index change.

The Index of Coincident Economic Indicators rose 0.4% during March (3.1% y/y), the same as in February, which was unrevised. Each of the four components contributed positively to the index change including nonagricultural employment, personal income less transfers, real manufacturing & trade sales and industrial production.

The Index of Lagging Economic Indicators increased 0.6% last month (6.4% y/y) after rising 0.2% in February, revised from no change. The average duration of unemployment, the business inventory-to-sales ratio, the change in factory sector unit labor costs, banks' prime rate, C&I loans, and the services CPI contributed positively to the index change. The consumer installment/personal income ratio was slightly negative.

The Conference Board figures are available in Haver's BCI database; the components are available there, and most are also in USECON. The expectations are in the AS1REPNA database. Visit the Conference Board's site for coverage of leading indicator series from around the world.

Steering Toward Sustainable Growth from Mary C. Daly, President & CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Business Cycle Indicators (%) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2021 2020 2019
Leading 0.3 0.6 -0.4 6.4 7.1 -4.1 1.5
Coincident 0.4 0.4 0.6 3.1 4.0 -3.6 1.1
Lagging 0.6 0.2 0.5 6.4 -2.2 1.1 3.2
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