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Released: Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for the U.K. increased 0.3 percent, and the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in October.

  • The leading index increased again in October, but September’s increase was revised down slightly as actual data for the third quarter’s gross operating surplus became available. Despite this month’s gain, the growth rate of the leading index has slowed to about a 3.0-4.0 percent annual rate, about half the 6.0-7.0 percent growth rate reached earlier this year. Even though the leading index is growing more slowly, the strength among the leading indicators has remained widespread.
  • The coincident index also increased in October, and it has been on a slightly rising trend since the beginning of 2003. At the same time, real GDP growth slowed to a 1.9 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2004, down from a 3.6 percent average rate over the previous four quarters. The current behavior of the leading index suggests that the economy will continue to grow in the near term, probably at a slightly higher rate than the sluggish third-quarter pace, but still lower than last year’s relatively strong growth.

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

With the 0.3 percent increase in October, the leading index now stands at 134.4 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2 percent in September and decreased 0.2 percent in August. During the six-month span through October, the leading index increased 1.7 percent, with six of the eight components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75.0 percent).

Coincident Indicators.Two of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in October. The positive contributors – from the larger positive contributor to the smaller – were employment* and real household disposable income*. Retail sales declined, while industrial production remained steady in October.

With the 0.1 percent increase in October, the coincident index now stands at 115.1 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in September and increased 0.2 percent in August. During the six-month period through October, the coincident index increased 0.6 percent, with three of the four components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75.0 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 December 14, 2004. Some series are estimated as noted below.

NOTES: 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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