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U.S. leading economic index decreased 0.4%


The Conference Board Leading Economic Index™ (LEI) for the U.S. decreased 0.4 percent, The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index™ (CEI) decreased 0.4 percent and The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index™ (LAG) decreased 0.4 percent in February.

The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. declined in February, following a slight increase in January. The monthly increase for December was revised to a small decline, while January's monthly increase was revised lower, due mainly to data revisions in manufacturers' new orders and real money supply. Between August 2008 and February 2009, the index fell 2.1 percent (a -4.1 percent annual rate), faster than the decline of 1.6 percent (a -3.1 percent annual rate) for the previous six months. In addition, the weaknesses among the leading indicators have remained widespread in recent months.

The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. fell again in February, driven by continued declines in employment and industrial production. Between August 2008 and February 2009, this index of current economic activity dropped 3.1 percent (a -6.1 percent annual rate), a much larger fall than the decrease of 0.9 percent (a -1.9 percent annual rate) for the previous six months, and the weaknesses among its components have remained widespread in recent months. The Conference Board LAG for the U.S. declined by the same amount as the coincident economic index this month, and as a result, the coincident to lagging ratio was unchanged. Meanwhile, real GDP fell at a 6.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2008 (following a decline of 0.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter), the largest quarterly contraction since 1982.

Amid widespread deterioration among its components, The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. continued the general downward trend that began in July 2007. But, its rate of decline has moderated slightly in recent months. Meanwhile, The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. remains on a downtrend that began in November 2007, with the decline in the index having accelerated in recent months. The six-month decline in the CEI is the largest since 1975. Taken together, the behavior of the composite economic indexes suggests that the economic recession that began in December 2007 will continue in the near term.




Posted: March 19, 2009 Thursday 10:00 AM




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