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Benchmark Revisions - January 2008

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Released: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index™ (LEI) for Australia increased 0.2 percent and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index™ (CEI) for Australia increased 0.4 percent in February.

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  • The Conference Board LEI for Australia increased slightly in February, following five consecutive declines. Money supply and building approvals rose sharply this month, more than offsetting the large decline in share prices. Despite this small gain, the six-month change in the index has continued to decline -- to -3.9 percent (a -7.6 percent annual rate) in the period through February, down from 2.4 percent (a 4.8 percent annual rate) from February to August 2008. However, the strengths and weaknesses among the leading indicators have remained somewhat balanced in recent months.
  • The Conference Board CEI for Australia rose again in February, helped by a continued increase in retail sales. The six-month change in the index has increased to 2.4 percent (about a 4.9 percent annual rate) in the period through February, up from 0.7 percent (a 1.5 percent annual rate) for the previous six months, and the strengths among its components have remained widespread. Meanwhile, real GDP fell at an average 0.9 percent annual rate in the second half of 2008 (including a decline of 2.1 percent annual rate for the fourth quarter), well below the 1.6 percent annual rate of growth in the first half of the year.
  • After declining for almost half a year, The Conference Board LEI for Australia rose modestly this month. However, the six-month growth rate of the index is still at its lowest since late 2000. Meanwhile, The Conference Board CEI for Australia remains on an upward trend, although its growth over the past several months can be attributed primarily to a large jump in retail sales fueled by the economic stimulus package. All in all, the sharp decline in the leading economic index in recent months suggests that the economy will remain weak in the near term.

LEADING INDICATORS. Four of the seven components in The Conference Board LEI for Australia 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 sales to inventories ratio*, and rural goods exports*. Share prices, gross operating surplus*, and the yield spread declined in February.

With the 0.2 percent increase in February, The Conference Board LEI for Australia now stands at 111.6 (2004=100). Based on revised data, this index declined 0.5 percent in January and declined 1.0 percent in December. During the six-month period through February, the leading economic index decreased 3.9 percent, and four of the seven components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 57.1 percent).

COINCIDENT INDICATORS. Two of the four components in The Conference Board CEI for Australia increased in February. The increases — in order from the larger positive contributor to the smaller — occurred in retail trade and household gross disposable income*. Industrial production* declined, while employed persons* remained unchanged in February.

With the increase of 0.4 percent in February, The Conference Board CEI for Australia now stands at 113.5 (2004=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.6 percent in January and increased 0.7 percent in December. During the six-month period through February, the coincident economic index increased 2.4 percent, with three of the four components in the series making positive contributions (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75.0 percent).

DATA AVAILABILITY. The data series used to compute The Conference Board Leading Economic Index™ (LEI) for Australia and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index™ (CEI) for Australia reported in this release are those available "as of" 10 A.M. ET on April 28, 2009. Some series are estimated as noted below.

* Series in The Conference Board LEI for Australia that are based on our 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 Conference Board CEI for Australia that are based on our 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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