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Released: Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for the U.K. increased 0.6 percent, and the coincident index increased 0.2 percent in December.

  • The leading index increased significantly in December with the strength largely from the industrial sector. The leading index has now increased at a 3.5 percent (annual rate) since its most recent low in March and the growth has become more widespread. The coincident index increased in December, keeping it on a moderately rising trend.
  • Following the upturn in the leading index since March, real GDP growth picked up to a 3.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter from an average of 1.5 percent in the first half of 2003. The continued widespread strength in the leading index in recent months suggests further improvement in economic growth through the first half of 2004.

Leading Indicators.Six of the eight components that make up the leading index increased in December. The positive contributors – from the largest positive contributor to the smallest – were order book volume, volume of expected output, productivity for the whole economy*, stock prices, new orders for engineering industries*, and operating surplus of corporations*. The fixed interest price index declined in December, while consumer confidence was unchanged.

With the 0.6 percent increase in December, the leading index now stands at 130.0 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.3 percent in November and increased 0.2 percent in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 1.4 percent with seven of the eight components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 87.5 percent).

Coincident Indicators.Three of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in December. Employment* was the largest positive contributor, followed by retail sales and real household disposable income*. Industrial production declined in December.

With the 0.2 percent increase in December, the coincident index now stands at 113.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index remained unchanged in November and increased 0.1 percent in October. During the six-month period through December, the coincident index increased 0.5 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 February 11, 2004. Some series are estimated as noted below.

Series in the leading index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are 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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