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Released: Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. declined 0.1 percent in March to 94.7 (2004 = 100), following a 0.5 percent increase in February, and a 0.5 percent increase in January.

Says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board: “After three consecutive gains, the U.S. LEI dipped slightly in March, with equally balanced strengths and weaknesses among its components. The leading indicator still points to a continuing but slow growth environment. Weakness in consumer expectations and housing permits was offset by the positive interest rate spread and other financial components. Meanwhile, the coincident economic index, a measure of current conditions, is down since December due to a large decline in personal income.”

Says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board: “Data for March reflect an economy that has lost some steam. In addition to headwinds from government spending cuts, the private sector economy may struggle to maintain its momentum. The biggest challenge remains weak demand, due to nervous consumer sentiment and slow income growth.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. declined 0.1 percent in March to 105.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.5 percent increase in February, and a 1.1 percent decline in January.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) increased 0.3 percent in March to 118.6 (2004 = 100), following no change in February, and a 1.7 percent increase in January.

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

For full press release and technical notes:

For more information about The Conference Board global business cycle indicators:

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.

Last year’s January 2012 benchmark revision to The Conference Board US Leading Economic Indicators incorporated incorrect standardization factors for the Coincident Economic Index components (CEI). The level and monthly changes of the CEI were affected by the use of the incorrect standardization factors in January 2012 and throughout 2012, but the impact of this on the overall cyclical properties of the CEI was not material. Because the long term growth trend of the CEI is used to calculate the trend adjustment factors in the calculation of The Conference Board US Leading Economic Index (LEI) and Lagging Economic Index (LAG), the two were also minimally impacted. However, the general interpretation of the indexes would not have been significantly affected although regression models using the indexes may be affected. Starting with the January 2013 regular annual benchmark revisions, new standardization factors were calculated and the entire history of the CEI was revised. Thus, the currently published indexes are not impacted.  For more information please go to the document on our website:


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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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