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Benchmark Revisions - January 2008

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Released: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Australia increased 0.8 percent, and the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in December.

  • The leading index increased sharply in December following a small decline in November. Although the leading index continues to be volatile from month to month, it has increased at a 3.8 percent annual rate since its most recent low in July 2003 (and at a 1.8 percent rate from the previous low in February 2003).
  • December’s moderate gain keeps the coincident index on an upward trend from its most recent low in March 2003. Correspondingly, real GDP grew at an average of 3.0 percent annual rate in the second and third quarters of 2003, up from 2.0 percent growth at the end of 2002 and beginning of 2003.
  • The pick up in the leading index in recent months is suggesting a continuation of moderate economic growth, or even a slight improvement, through the first half of 2004.

Leading Indicators.Six 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 money supply*, rural goods exports*, “medium-term” government bond yield, share prices, gross operating surplus*, and (inverted) sales to inventories ratio*. Building approvals* and yield spread declined in December.

With the 0.8 percent increase in December, the leading index now stands at 150.0 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.1 percent in November and remained unchanged in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 1.1 percent, and six of the eight components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Three of the five components in the coincident index increased in December. The increases - in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest – occurred in employed persons, household gross disposable income*, and industrial production*. Retail trade* declined, while the (inverted) unemployment rate remained unchanged in December.

With the 0.1 percent increase in December, the coincident index now stands at 115.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2 percent in November and increased 0.3 percent in October. During the six-month period through December, the coincident index increased 1.3 percent, with all five components in the series making positive contributions (diffusion index, six-month span equals 100.0 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 24, 2004. 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, and the CPI used to deflate money supply M3. Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are industrial production and household disposable income. CPI was 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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