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Released: Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index for France remained steady, while the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in February.

  • The leading index was unchanged in February following five consecutive increases (which were revised up slightly). Despite the pause in February, the leading index has increased at about a 3.5 percent annual rate from its most recent low in August 2003, and the strength is still widespread. The coincident index increased slightly in February, and continues to fluctuate around a slightly rising trend.
  • While the growth rate of the leading index has been improving since late 2002, the recent growth is not as rapid as occurred during previous strong economic recoveries. Correspondingly, real GDP growth picked up in the second half of 2003, but only to a 1.8 percent annual rate. The continued moderate strength in the leading index is signaling some further pickup in the rate of economic growth in the near term, but only a moderate improvement.

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

Holding steadying in February, the leading index now stands at 102.9 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.3 percent in January and increased 0.2 percent in December. During the six-month span through February, the leading index increased 1.7 percent, and nine of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 90.0 percent).

Coincident Indicators. All four components of the coincident index decreased in February. The positive contributors to the index are retail sales, paid employment*, real imports* and industrial production. (For details, see data availability section and tables.)

With the 0.1 percent increase in February, the coincident index now stands at 115.2 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index held steady in January and increased 0.1 percent in December. During the six-month period through February, the coincident index increased 0.6 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 April 14, 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 the deflator of 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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