Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Rise in November US leading indicators

The US economic outlook gets some relief as the Conference Board's index of leading indicators rose in November.

The U.S. Leading Index Increases after a Five Month Decline
The Conference Board announced today that the U.S. leading index increased 0.2 percent, the coincident index increased 0.1 percent and the lagging index decreased 0.1 percent in November.

The leading index increased in November, following five consecutive declines. In addition, the weakness in the leading indicators in recent months has become somewhat less widespread. It is too early to conclude that the recent weakness in the leading index was only a pause in the rising trend, but to date the decline was not large enough and did not persist for long enough to signal an end to the current economic expansion...

The leading index now stands at 115.2 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.4 percent in October and decreased 0.2 percent in September. During the six-month span through November, the leading index decreased 1.1 percent, with five out of ten components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals fifty percent).

As the six-month change shows, the trend is still down. So I don't expect to see any significant acceleration in the economy in the coming months. The rise in the index, however, may give bulls justification to push stocks up for a year-end rally.

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