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Released: Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index for France increased 0.3 percent, while the coincident index increased 0.2 percent in October.

  • The increase in the leading index in October keeps it fluctuating around a flat or slightly rising trend since early this year. The coincident index, a measure of current economic activity, increased again in October, and this strength has become more widespread.
  • While the leading index clearly has not been rising rapidly, the flat to slightly rising trend so far this year is still an improvement from the steep decline in the second half of 2002. Real GDP turned up slightly in the third quarter to a 1.5 percent annual rate following slight declines over the previous three quarters (a -0.8 percent average annual rate). This is consistent with the improvement in the leading index, which is also suggesting that a mild upturn in GDP is likely to continue through early 2004.

Leading Indicators.

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

With the increase of 0.3 percent in October, the leading index now stands at 101.3 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index remained unchanged in September and decreased 0.3 percent in August. During the six-month span through October, the leading index decreased 0.1 percent, and five of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 55.0 percent).

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

With the increase of 0.2 percent in October, the coincident index now stands at 114.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2 percent in September and decreased 0.1 percent in August. During the six-month period through October, the coincident index increased 0.1 percent, with three of the four series making a positive contribution (diffusion index, six-month span equals 62.5 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 15, 2003. Some series are estimated as noted below.

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 real imports and paid employment.

Further explanations of the cyclical indicator approach and the composite index methodology appear in The Conference Board’s Business Cycle Indicators report and Web site www.globalindicators.org

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

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