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Released: Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index™ (LEI) for the Euro Area increased 0.5 percent in January to 92.8 (2004 = 100), following a 1.7 percent fall in December and a 1.8 percent drop in November. The widening interest rate spread and increasing business expectations in services more than offset a negative contribution from the Economic Sentiment Index.

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"If sustained, the 0.5 percent rise in The Conference Board LEI for the Euro Area in January may signal an inflection point in the recession, but still not a turning point," said Jean-Claude Manini, The Conference Board Senior Economist for Europe. "The expansionary policy mix currently in place may favor a rebound during the second half of 2009, but history suggests that the combination of traditional recessions and financial crises often lead to subdued recoveries."

Despite the increase in January, The Conference Board LEI for the Euro Area remains on a general downtrend since June 2007, falling by more than 14.0 percent since then. A previous decline of this magnitude preceded the region's 1992-93 recession. Meanwhile, The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index™ (CEI) for the Euro Area, a measure of current economic activity, rose by 0.2 percent in January to 104.5 (2004 = 100), according to preliminary estimates, after falling 0.4 percent in December and 0.3 percent in November. The Conference Board CEI for the Euro Area has been trending downward since February 2008.

The Conference Board LEI for the Euro Area: Still No Trough in Sight

The Conference Board LEI for the Euro Area aggregates eight economic indicators that measure activity in the Euro Area as a whole (rather than indicators of individual member countries), each of which has proven accurate on its own. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out so-called "noise" to show underlying trends more clearly.

About The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the Euro Area

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index™ (LEI) for the Euro Area was launched in January 2009. Plotted back to 1987, this index has successfully signaled turning points in the business cycle of the bloc of countries that now constitute the Euro Area, defined by the common currency zone.

The Conference Board currently produces leading economic indexes for nine other individual countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Australia, Korea and Mexico.

Click here for further background information on The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the Euro Area.

The eight components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index™ (LEI) for the Euro Area include:

Economic Sentiment Index (source: European Commission DG-ECFIN)
Index of Residential Building Permits Granted (source: Eurostat)
Index of Capital Goods New Orders (source: Eurostat)
Dow Jones EURO STOXX® Index (source: STOXX Limited)
Money Supply (M2) (source: European Central Bank)
Interest Rate Spread (source: ECB)
Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (source: Markit Economics)
Eurozone Service Sector Future Business Activity Expectations Index (source: Markit Economics)

About The Conference Board

For over 90 years, The Conference Board has created and disseminated knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board operates as a global independent membership organization working in the public interest. It publishes information and analysis, makes economics-based forecasts and assesses trends, and facilitates learning by creating dynamic communities of interest that bring together senior executives from around the world. The Conference Board is a not-for-profit organization and holds 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in the United States. For additional information about The Conference Board and how it can meet your needs, visit us here at:

* Series in the TCB's LEI for the Euro Area that are based on The Conference Board estimates are real money supply, residential building permits and new orders of capital goods. All series in the TCB's CEI for the Euro Area are based on The Conference Board estimates (employment, industrial production, retail trade and manufacturing turnover).


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