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Benchmark Revisions - January 2008

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Released: Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Australia increased 0.3 percent in December while the coincident index remained unchanged.

  • The leading index continued its upward trend in December, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase. The index closed the year 3.76 percent above its level one year ago.
  • While much of the increase can be attributed to continued increases in the financial components, the 6-month diffusion index, which measures the proportion of the leading index components that are rising, continues to remain above 50. Strength in the index has been widespread throughout 2002, suggesting that the strong pace of economic activity will continue through the first half of 2003.
  • The coincident index, a measure of current economic activity, was flat in December. A strong increase in employment was largely offset by weak retail sales.

Leading Indicators. Four of the eight components in the leading index increased in December. The positive contributors to the index —in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest— are inverted “medium term” government bond yield, money supply*, sales to inventories ratio*, and gross operating surplus*. Four of the eight components of the leading index decreased in December. The negative contributors to the index —in order from the largest negative contributor to the smallest — are yield spread, rural goods exports*, building approvals*, and share prices.

With the increase of 0.3 percent in December, the leading index now stands at 149.0 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in November and increased 0.7 percent in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 2.2 percent, and five of the eight components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 62.5 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Two of the five components in the coincident index increased in December. The increases - in order from the larger positive contributor to the smaller one - occurred in the number of employed persons and household gross disposable income*. Two of the five components in the coincident index decreased in December. The decreases - in order from the larger negative contributor to the smaller one – are retail trade and the unemployment rate. Industrial production* remained unchanged.

Remaining flat in December, the coincident index now stands at 113.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.3 percent in November and increased 0.2 percent in October. During the six-month period through December, the coincident index increased 0.7 percent, with three of the five components in the series making positive contributions (diffusion index, six-month span equals 70.0 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” 5 P.M. ET on February 18, 2003. Some series are estimated as noted below.

*Notes: Series in the leading index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are sales to inventory ratio and gross operating surplus for private non-financial corporations, the implicit price index used to deflate rural goods exports and building approvals. (Money Supply M3 levels from April 2002 are derived from growth rates reported by RBA). Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are industrial production, household disposable income, and CPI used to deflate retail trade.

Due to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s discontinuation of the 3-month Treasury Bill (for details see ‘For the Record” in the June 2002 RBA bulletin). The Conference Board will use the Bank Accepted Bill 90 Days to calculate the yield spread from now on.

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

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