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Benchmark Revisions - January 2008

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Released: Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Australia increased 0.7 percent, and the coincident index remained unchanged in February.

  • The leading index increased sharply in February, the seventh consecutive gain, and has now increased at almost a 6.0 percent annual rate since mid-2003. The strength is still widespread, although the leading index continues to be volatile from month to month. Despite holding steady in February, the coincident index remains on a gradual upward trend.
  • The pick up in the growth rate of the leading index has been signaling stronger economic growth. Correspondingly, real GDP increased at a 5.5 percent annual rate in the second half of 2003, up from 2.5 percent during the first half of the year. The continued strength in the leading index suggests that relatively strong economic growth is likely to persist in the near term.

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

With the 0.7 percent increase in February, the leading index now stands at 152.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in January and increased 1.0 percent in December. During the six-month period through February, the leading index increased 2.8 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 February. The increases - in order from the larger positive contributor to the smaller – occurred in household gross disposable income*, and industrial production*. The (inverted) unemployment rate, retail trade*, and employed persons declined in February.

Holding steady in February, the coincident index now stands at 115.6 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in January and held steady in December. During the six-month period through February, the coincident index increased 0.9 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 April 21, 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.

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

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