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Released: Thursday, March 13, 2003

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index declined 0.4 percent, while the coincident index for France increased 0.4 percent in January.

  • The leading index continued to decline in January, after no change in December 2002. The weakness in the components of the leading index has been widespread for the past several months, as shown by the six-month diffusion index staying well below 50 percent.
  • Deterioration in the stock market, housing sector, as well as consumer confidence index, contributed to this month’s decline in the leading index.
  • The coincident index continued to grow in January. With this month’s increase, the coincident index has been moderately but steadily growing for the last seven months. However, the weakness in the leading index suggests that economic activity in France may be slowing down in the coming months.

Leading Indicators. Three of the ten components of the leading index increased in January. The positive contributors to the index —in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest— are the inverted bond yield, change in stocks*, and the yield spread. Six of the ten components of the leading index decreased in January. The negative contributors to the index —in order from the largest negative contributor to the smallest—are the consumer confidence index (opinion balance), inverted new unemployment claims, the stock price index, the ratio of the deflator of manufacturing value added to unit labor cost for manufacturing*, personal consumption of manufacturing goods, and building permits (residential). Industrial new orders remained unchanged in January.

With the 0.4 percent decrease in January, the leading index now stands at 101.5 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index remained unchanged in December and declined 0.2 percent in November. During the six-month span through January, the leading index decreased 1.3 percent, and three of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 30 percent).

Coincident Indicators. All four components of the coincident index increased in January. The positive contributors to the index —in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest—are paid employment*, retail sales, industrial production*, and real imports*. (For details, see data availability section and tables.)

With the 0.4 percent increase in January, the coincident index now stands at 116.9 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.3 percent in December and increased 0.3 percent again in November. During the six-month period through January, the coincident index increased 2.1 percent, with three of the four series making positive contributions (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 change in stocks and ratio deflator of manufacturing value added to unit labor cost in manufacturing. Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are industrial production, real imports, and paid employment.

For further information, please visit our research associate in France at www.coe-rexecode.fr/index.jsv

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

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