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Released: Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index for France increased 0.3 percent, while the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in November.

  • November’s increase and upward revisions to previous months make it more likely that the leading index has turned up and is now on a rising trend. The coincident index, a measure of current economic activity, continued increasing in November, and this strength has become more widespread.
  • The leading index is still not rising rapidly but its growth rate has picked up from a –4.0 percent annual rate in the second half of 2002 to almost a 1.0 percent annual rate over the last six months. This is similar to what occurred in late 2001, which was followed by stronger growth in both real GDP and the coincident index in the first half of 2002. Real GDP and the coincident index picked up moderately in the third quarter of 2003, and the leading index is suggesting continued improvement in coming quarters.

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

With the increase of 0.3 percent in November, the leading index now stands at 101.8 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.3 percent in October and increased 0.1 percent in September. During the six-month span through November, the leading index increased 0.4 percent, and five of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 50.0 percent).

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

With the increase of 0.1 percent in November, the coincident index now stands at 114.8 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2 percent in October and increased 0.1 percent in September. During the six-month period through November, the coincident index increased 0.3 percent, with all four series making a positive contribution (diffusion index, six-month span equals 100 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 January 13, 2004. 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 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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