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Released: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

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

  • The leading index increased for a fifth consecutive month in January, and the strength continues to be widespread. The leading index has now increased at about a 3.5 percent annual rate from its most recent low in August 2003.
  • The coincident index was unchanged in January, following a slight decline in December, and as a result, the coincident index continues to fluctuate around a slightly rising trend. At the same time, real GDP increased at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the third and fourth quarters of 2003, up from a -0.7 percent average rate in the first half of the year.
  • The leading index is on a rising trend, but the 3.5 percent growth rate since August is not as rapid as during previous strong economic recoveries. As a result, the leading index is signaling a further pick up in the rate of economic growth during the first half of 2004, but the improvement is likely to be moderate.

Leading Indicators. Six 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 consumer confidence index (opinion balance), the stock price index, building permits (residential), the inverted bond yield, change in stocks*, and the ratio of the deflator of manufacturing value added to unit labor cost for manufacturing*. Inverted new unemployment claims, personal consumption of manufacturing goods, and the yield spread declined, while industrial new orders remained unchanged in January. (For details, see data availability section and tables.)

With the increase of 0.3 percent in January, the leading index now stands at 102.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.3 percent in December and increased 0.4 percent in November. During the six-month span through January, the leading index increased 1.3 percent, and nine of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 90.0 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Two of the four components of the coincident index decreased in January. The negative contributors to the index are real imports* and retail sales. Industrial production and paid employment* remained unchanged in January. (For details, see data availability section and tables.)

Holding steady in January, the coincident index now stands at 114.9 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.1 percent in December and increased 0.1 percent in November. During the six-month period through January, the coincident index increased 0.3 percent, with three of the four series making a positive contribution (diffusion index, six-month span equals 87.5 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 March 15, 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.

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

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