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The U.S. Leading Index Falls Slightly

Monday, July 26, 2004

Press release from the issuing company

July 22, 2004 -- The Conference Board announced today that the U.S. leading index decreased 0.2 percent, the coincident index increased 0.1 percent and the lagging index held steady in June. The leading index fell slightly in June, the first decline since March 2003, and last month's increase was revised down slightly. June's weakness was not widespread, and some of the decline was from the average manufacturing workweek (which was most likely the result of many businesses being closed for President Reagan's funeral). The coincident index continued increasing in June, keeping its growth rate in the 3.0 to 3.5 percent (annual rate) range. In addition, the upward trend of the coincident index continues to be widespread. While the leading index is still on an upward trend, its growth rate has slowed in recent months – into the 2.5 to 3.5 percent range (annual rate). The current behavior of the leading index is consistent with real GDP increasing at a 4.0 to 5.0 percent annual rate in the near term. Leading Indicators. Five of the ten indicators that make up the leading index increased in June. The positive contributors – beginning with the largest positive contributor – were index of consumer expectations, stock prices, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods*, and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials*. The negative contributors – beginning with the largest negative contributor – were building permits, average weekly manufacturing hours, vendor performance, real money supply*, and interest rate spread. The leading index now stands at 116.2 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.4 in May and increased 0.1 percent in April. During the six-month span through June, the leading index increased 1.5 percent, with eight out of ten components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 80 percent). Coincident Indicators. Three of the four indicators that make up the coincident index increased in June. The positive contributors to the index – beginning with the largest positive contributor - were personal income less transfer payments*, employees on nonagricultural payrolls, and manufacturing and trade sales*. The negative contributor was industrial production. The coincident index now stands at 117.6 (1996=100). This index increased 0.3 percent in May and increased 0.3 percent in April. During the six-month period through June, the coincident index increased 1.6 percent. Lagging Indicators.The lagging index stands at 97.8 (1996=100) in June, with four of the seven components advancing. The positive contributors to the index – beginning with the largest positive contributor – were change in CPI for services, average duration of unemployment (inverted), ratio of manufacturing and trade inventories to sales*, and ratio of consumer installment credit to personal income*. The negative contributors were commercial and industrial loans outstanding*, and change in labor cost per unit of output*. The average prime rate charged by banks held steady in June. Based on revised data, the lagging index increased 0.1 percent in May and remained unchanged in April. Data Availability and Notes. The data series used by The Conference Board to compute the three composite indexes and reported in the tables in this release are those available “as of” 12 Noon on July 21, 2004. Some series are estimated as noted below.




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