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Released: Thursday, February 19, 2004

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index for France increased 0.2 percent, while the coincident index remained unchanged in December.

  • The leading index has now increased for four consecutive months, and the strength continues to be widespread. The leading index has increased at a 3.0 percent annual rate above its most recent low in August 2003 and at a 4.0 percent rate over the last three months.
  • The coincident index was unchanged in December, but continued to increase slightly in the fourth quarter at a 0.8 percent annual rate. Real GDP growth picked up to a 1.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, from an average of a -0.7 percent rate in the first half of 2003.
  • The more rapid growth of the leading index over the last three to four months suggests a further pick up in economic growth in the near term.

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

With the increase of 0.2 percent in December, the leading index now stands at 102.1 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.4 percent in November and increased 0.3 percent in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 0.9 percent, and six of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 60.0 percent).

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

Holding steady in December, the coincident index now stands at 114.8 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index remained unchanged in November and increased 0.2 percent in October. During the six-month period through December, 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 February 17, 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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