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Released: Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.7 percent in February to 95.5 (2004 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in January and a 0.5 percent increase in December.

Said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board: “Continued broad-based gains in the LEI for the United States confirm a more positive outlook for general economic activity in the first half of 2012, although still subdued consumer expectations and the purchasing managers’ index for new orders held the LEI back in February. The CEI for the United States, a measure of current economic conditions, has also been rising as employment, income, and sales data all continue to improve. Industrial production, however, has not yet picked up strongly.”

Added Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board: “Recent data reflect an economy that improved this winter. To be sure, an unseasonably mild winter has contributed to many of the recent positive economic reports. But the consistent signal for the leading series suggests that progress on jobs, output, and incomes may continue through the summer months, if not beyond.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in February to 104.0 (2004 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in January and a 0.6 percent increase in December.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) increased 0.2 percent in February to 114.1 (2004 = 100), following a 0.5 percent increase in January and a 0.2 percent increase in December.

About The Conference Board Leading Economic Index®(LEI) for the U.S.

The composite economic indexes are the key elements in an analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. The leading, coincident, and lagging economic indexes are essentially composite averages of several individual leading, coincident, or lagging indicators. They are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component – primarily because they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® for the U.S. include:

Average weekly hours, manufacturing

Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance

Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials

ISM Index of New Orders

Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders

Building permits, new private housing units

Stock prices, 500 common stocks

Leading Credit Index™

Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds

Average consumer expectations for business conditions


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About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.


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Technical Notes
Underlying detail, diffusion indexes, components, contributions and graphs

Press Release
With graph and summary table

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