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Benchmark Revisions - May 2006

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Released: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Conference Board reports today that the leading index for France increased 0.2 percent, while the coincident index remained unchanged in December.

  • The leading index increased slightly in December after four consecutive declines. Despite December’s small gain, the leading index has been declining at about a -0.5 to -1.0 percent annual rate in recent months, down from the high growth rate of positive 5.0 percent reached in the second quarter of 2004, but still well above the most recent low growth rate of - 5.0 percent in the third quarter of 2001. In addition, the strengths and weaknesses among the leading indicators have been somewhat balanced in recent months.
  • The coincident index was unchanged in December, and it has been on an essentially flat trend since the beginning of 2005. At the same time, real GDP growth slowed to a 0.8 percent annual rate (advance estimate) in the fourth quarter of 2005, down from the 2.8 percent rate in the third quarter and the 1.0 percent average rate in the first half of 2005. The recent behavior in the leading index suggests that the economy will continue to grow at a slow to moderate rate in the near term.

Leading Indicators. Five of the ten components of the leading index increased in December. The positive contributors to the index —in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest— are the consumer confidence index (opinion balance), building permits (residential), the stock price index, the industrial new orders, and the inverted bond yield. Change in stocks*, the inverted new unemployment claims, the yield spread, the ratio of the deflator of manufacturing value added to unit labor cost for manufacturing*, and personal consumption of manufacturing goods declined in December.

With the increase of 0.2 percent in December, the leading index now stands at 105.3 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index declined 0.4 percent in November and declined 0.1 percent in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index decreased 0.2 percent, and six of the ten components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 60.0 percent).

Coincident Indicators.Two of the four components of the coincident index increased in December. The positive contributors to the index were real imports* and paid employment*. Industrial production declined, while retail sales held steady in December.

Holding steady in December, the coincident index now stands at 116.7 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.2 percent in November and declined 0.1 percent in October. During the six-month period through December, the coincident index increased 0.2 percent, with three of the four series making a positive contribution (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75.0 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 February 13, 2006. Some series are estimated as noted below.

NOTES: Series in the leading index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are change in stocks and ratio deflator of manufacturing value added to unit labor cost in manufacturing. Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are the deflator of real imports and paid employment.

THESE DATA ARE FOR ANALYSIS PURPOSES ONLY. NOT FOR REDISTRIBUTION, PUBLISHING, DATABASING, OR PUBLIC POSTING WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION.

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