Global Business Cycle Indicators


Press Release Archive

Released: Monday, May 12, 2003

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for the U.K. decreased 0.3 percent, and the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in March.

  • The leading index declined again in March for the sixth consecutive month. However, the recent weakness has not been nearly as deep as the declines that have typically signaled recessions.
  • The recent declines have been driven by significant weakness in stock prices and consumer confidence.
  • The coincident index, a measure of current economic conditions, continued to increase modestly. While industrial production has declined in five of the last six months, the coincident index has continued to increase because of rising employment, retail sales and household disposable income.

Leading Indicators. Four of the nine components that make up the leading index decreased in March. The negative contributors – from the largest negative contributor to the smallest – are consumer confidence, volume of expected output, fixed interest price index, and stock prices. The three positive contributors to the index – beginning with the largest positive contributor - are order book volume, productivity for the whole economy*, and new orders for engineering industries*. Housing starts* and operating surplus of corporations* were unchanged in March.

With the 0.3 percent decline in March, the leading index now stands at 123.6 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.2 percent in February and decreased 0.2 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the leading index decreased 1.7 percent with three of the nine components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 33.3 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Three of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in March. Employment* was the largest contributor, followed by real household disposable income* and retail sales. Industrial production declined in March.

With a 0.1 percent increase in March, the coincident index now stands at 114.0 (1990=100). This index increased 0.2 percent in February and decreased 0.1 percent in January. During the six-month period through March, the coincident index increased 0.5 percent, with three of the four components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75 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” 10 A.M. ET on May 9, 2003. Some series are estimated as noted below.

*Notes: Series in the leading index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are new orders in engineering industries, productivity of the whole economy, and operating surplus of corporations. Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are employment and real household disposable income.