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The U.S. Leading Index Falls for the Second Consecutive Month

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Press release from the issuing company

The Conference Board announced today that the U.S. leading index decreased 0.3 percent, the coincident index increased 0.1 percent and the lagging index increased 0.5 percent in July. The leading index fell in July, the second consecutive decline, and the weakness in the last two months was widespread. Although it is too soon to conclude that these declines end the upward trend in the leading index underway since March 2003, this weakness has slowed the growth rate of the leading index into the range of 1.0 to 2.0 percent (annual rate). The coincident index increased in July following no change in June, and growth continues to be widespread. At the same time, real GDP growth slowed to a 3.0 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2004, down from a 5.0 percent average rate over the preceding four quarters. " The average growth rate of the leading index since 1959 has been about 1.5 percent (annual rate) versus a 3.5 percent average growth rate of real GDP. The slower growth of the leading index so far this year is consistent with a moderate rate of real GDP growth in the near term. Leading Indicators. Four of the ten indicators that make up the leading index increased in July. The positive contributors - beginning with the largest positive contributor - were building permits, index of consumer expectations, average weekly manufacturing hours, and manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials*. The negative contributors - beginning with the largest negative contributor - were vendor performance, interest rate spread, stock prices, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), real money supply*, and manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods*. The leading index now stands at 116.0 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.1 percent in June and increased 0.4 percent in May. During the six-month span through July, the leading index increased 1.0 percent, with seven out of ten components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 70 percent). Coincident Indicators. All four indicators that make up the coincident index increased in July. The positive contributors to the index - beginning with the largest positive contributor - were industrial production, personal income less transfer payments*, manufacturing and trade sales*, and employees on nonagricultural payrolls. The coincident index now stands at 117.5 (1996=100). This index remained unchanged in June and increased 0.3 percent in May. During the six-month period through July, the coincident index increased 1.3 percent. Lagging Indicators. The lagging index stands at 98.3 (1996=100) in July, with four of the seven components advancing. The positive contributors to the index - beginning with the largest positive contributor - were average duration of unemployment (inverted), commercial and industrial loans outstanding*, average prime rate charged by banks, and ratio of consumer installment credit to personal income*. The ratio of manufacturing and trade inventories to sales*, change in labor cost per unit of output*, and change in CPI for services held steady in July. Based on revised data, the lagging index remained unchanged in June and increased 0.1 percent in May.

 

 

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