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Released: Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Germany increased 0.3 percent, while the coincident index increased 0.1 percent in December.

  • The leading index continued on an upward trend in December, and the increases reported for the last several months were revised up as actual quarterly data became available. The leading index has increased at a 4.9 percent annual rate since its most recent low in March 2003, the most rapid growth since 1994, and the strength continues to be widespread.
  • Real GDP increased at a 0.9 percent annual rate in the second half of 2003, up from a 0.8 percent rate of decline in the first half of the year. The continued widespread strength in the leading index is signaling a further improvement in real GDP growth through the first half of 2004.
  • The increase in the leading index since March makes it likely that the long decline in the leading index from early 2000 to early 2003 has ended. This suggests that the long period of economic weakness that lasted from late 2000 to early 2003 has also ended, but the strength and durability of the recovery is still uncertain.

Leading Indicators. Five of the eight components in the leading index increased in December. The positive contributors to the leading index - in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest - are stock prices, new orders in investment goods industries, the inventory change series*, new residential construction orders, and gross enterprises and properties income*. Consumer confidence and the yield spread declined, while the growth rate of CPI for services remained unchanged in December.

With a 0.3 percent increase in December, the leading index now stands at 103.1 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.8 percent in November and increased 0.5 percent in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 2.8 percent, with seven of the eight components increasing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 87.5 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Three of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in December. The positive contributors to the coincident index were industrial production, manufacturing sales, and employed persons*. Retail trade decreased in December.

With a 0.1 percent increase in December, the coincident index now stands at 108.5 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.6 percent in November and decreased 0.5 percent in October. During the six-month period through December, the coincident index decreased 0.3 percent, with two of the four components increasing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 50 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 23, 2004. Some series are estimated as noted below.

*Notes: Series in the leading index for Germany that are based on The Conference Board estimates are inventory change, new residential construction orders, and gross enterprises and properties income. Series in the coincident index for Germany that are based on The Conference Board estimates include employed persons.

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

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