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Released: Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for the U.K. decreased 0.3 percent, and the coincident index held steady in January.

  • The leading index declined in January for the fourth consecutive month. Consumer confidence, volume of expected output, and stock prices were the primary components driving the index down.
  • The weakness in the leading index has become more widespread as shown by the six-month diffusion index (a measure of the proportion of components that are increasing) falling below fifty percent.
  • The coincident index, a measure of current economic conditions, held steady in January. Taken together, the composite indexes point to slowing growth in the U.K. economy in the coming months.

Leading Indicators. Five of the nine components that make up the leading index decreased in January. The negative contributors—from the largest negative contributor to the smallest—are consumer confidence, stock prices, the volume of expected output, housing starts*, and the fixed interest price index. The three positive contributors to the index—beginning with the largest positive contributor—are order book volume, productivity for the whole economy*, and new orders for engineering industries*. Operating surplus of corporations* was unchanged in January.

With the 0.3 percent decrease in January, the leading index now stands at 124.2 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.5 percent in December and decreased 0.3 percent in November. During the six-month span through January, the leading index decreased 0.1 percent with four of the nine components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 44.4 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Two of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in January. The positive contributors, beginning with the larger positive contributor, are employment* and real household disposable income*. Retail sales and industrial production decreased in January.

Holding steady in January, the coincident index now stands at 113.9 (1990=100). This index increased 0.2 percent in December and increased 0.1 percent in November. During the six-month period through January, the coincident index increased 0.8 percent, with three of the four components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75 percent).

Data Availability. The data series used by The Conference Board to compute the two composite indexes reported in the tables in this release are those available “as of” 10 A.M. ET on March 11, 2003. Some series are estimated as noted below.

*Notes: Series in the leading index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are housing building starts, new orders in engineering industries, productivity of the whole economy, and operating surplus of corporations. Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are employment and real household disposable income.

THESE DATA ARE FOR ANALYSIS PURPOSES ONLY. NOT FOR REDISTRIBUTION, PUBLISHING, DATABASING, OR PUBLIC POSTING WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION.

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