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Released: Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for the U.K. decreased 0.6 percent, and the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in February.

  • While the leading index has declined in the last five months, the cumulative decline is still relatively shallow compared to declines in previous recessions. This month’s decline in the leading index is primarily due to weaker stock prices and consumer confidence.
  • The six-month diffusion index (a measure of the proportion of components that are increasing) has been steadily decreasing in the last six months. This, coupled with the weakness in the leading index is an indication that growth in economic activity will continue to slow.
  • The coincident index, a measure of current economic conditions, continued to increase modestly. Retail sales have been weak but growth in employment and household disposable income have continued to boost the coincident index.

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

With the 0.6 percent decrease in February, the leading index now stands at 123.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.2 percent in January and decreased 0.4 percent in December. During the six-month span through February, the leading index decreased 1.4 percent with three of the nine components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 33.3 percent).

COINCIDENT INDICATORS. Three of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in February. Employment* was the largest contributor, followed by equal contributions from industrial production and real household disposable income*. Retail sales held steady in February.

With a 0.1 percent increase in January, the coincident index now stands at 113.9 (1990=100). This index held steady in January and increased 0.1 percent in December. During the six-month period through February, the coincident index increased 0.7 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 April 14, 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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