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Released: Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index for France increased 0.3 percent, while the coincident index remained unchanged in July.

  • The leading index increased moderately in July, reflecting gains in new orders, the stock market, and housing. The coincident index, a measure of current economic activity, was unchanged in July and has been essentially flat over the last two and a half years.
  • The implication of July’s 0.3 percent increase in the leading index for economic growth is tempered by an offsetting downward revision to the leading index in June. Nonetheless, the six-month growth rate of the leading index has turned up slightly and the pickup has been widespread, as shown by an increase in the six-month diffusion index to 70.0 percent.
  • Real GDP declined at a 1.3-percent annual rate in the second quarter and at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the first half of the year. Looking ahead, the slight improvement in the short-term trend of the leading index is suggesting less economic weakness in the second half of the year.

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

With the increase of 0.3 percent in July, the leading index now stands at 101.8 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.2 percent in June and increased 0.1 percent in May. During the six-month span through July, the leading index increased 0.1 percent, and seven of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 70 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Two of the components of the coincident index increased in July. The positive contributors to the index —in order from the larger positive contributor to the smaller—are paid employment* and real imports*. Industrial production declined, while retail sales* stayed unchanged in July.

Holding steady in July, the coincident index now stands at 114.5 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.1 percent in June and decreased 0.2 percent in May. During the six-month period through July, the coincident index decreased 0.3 percent, with only one of the four series making a positive contribution (diffusion index, six-month span equals 25.0 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 September 15, 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, personal consumption of manufacturing goods, 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 retail sales, 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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