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Released: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for Korea increased 0.2 percent and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for Korea increased 0.1 percent in February.

  • The Conference Board LEI for Korea increased slightly in February following two consecutive monthly declines, and upward revisions to the index for January. Private construction orders picked up sharply in February, more than offsetting large negative contributions from the (inverted) index of inventories to shipments and real exports. With February’s gain, the six-month growth rate of the leading economic index has picked up to 1.8 percent (about a 3.6 percent annual rate) between August 2012 and February 2013, a sharp improvement from the decline of 2.5 percent (about a -5.0 percent annual rate) for the previous six months. Additionally, the strengths among the leading indicators have remained more widespread than the weaknesses in recent months.
  • The Conference Board CEI for Korea, a measure of current economic activity, also increased in February. The coincident economic index grew by 0.8 percent (about a 1.6 percent annual rate) in the six-month period ending February 2013, up from the decline of 0.5 percent (about a 1.0 percent annual rate) during the previous six months.  Moreover, the strengths among the coincident indicators have become very widespread in the last six months, with all of the indicators improving during this period. At the same time, real GDP grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the last quarter of 2012, up from 0.2 percent (annual rate) in the third quarter.  
  • The LEI for Korea increased slightly in February after declining in the previous two months, and its six-month growth has picked up in recent months. Meanwhile, the CEI for Korea also increased slightly in February following two small consecutive monthly declines, and its six-month growth rate has remained in positive territory. Taken together, recent improvements in both the LEI and CEI suggest that the economic expansion will continue, and that the rate of expansion may even pick up moderately in the near term.

LEADING INDICATORS.  Three of the seven components that make up The Conference Board LEI for Korea increased in February. The positive contributors – from the largest positive contributor to the smallest – were private construction orders, letter of credit arrivals, and the (inverted) yield of government public bonds.  Negative contributors – from the largest negative contributor to the smallest – were the (inverted) index of inventories to shipments, real exports FOB, and stock prices.  Value of machinery orders was unchanged in February.

With the 0.2 percent increase in February, The Conference Board LEI for Korea now stands at 121.4 (2004=100).  Based on revised data, this index declined 0.1 percent in January and declined 0.2 percent in December.  During the six-month span through February, the leading economic index increased 1.8 percent, with five of the seven components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 71.4 percent).

COINCIDENT INDICATORS.  Two of the four components that make up The Conference Board CEI for Korea increased in February.  The positive contributors – in order from the larger positive contributor to the smaller – were the wholesale and retail sales component and monthly cash earnings*.   Total employment and industrial production declined in February.

With the 0.1 percent increase in February, The Conference Board CEI for Korea now stands at 117.1 (2004=100).  Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.1 percent in January and decreased 0.2 percent in December. During the six-month span through February, the coincident economic index increased 0.8 percent, with all four components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 100.0 percent).

DATA AVAILABILITY.  The data series used to compute The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for Korea reported in this release are those available “as of” 10 A.M. (ET) on April 15, 2013.  

* The series in the coincident economic index based on The Conference Board’s estimates is monthly cash earnings.  The series in the leading economic index based on The Conference Board’s estimates is letter of credit arrivals.

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

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