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Global Business Cycle Indicators


Press Release Archive

Released: Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Germany declined 0.4 percent, while the coincident index held steady in March.

  • The leading index declined in March, the second decline in the last three months (February’s small decline has been revised to no change). As a result, the upward trend underway since March 2003 has been interrupted but it is too soon to know if this is just a pause in the upward trend or a significant change in direction. The coincident index held steady in March, continuing on the flat to slightly rising trend underway since the third quarter of 2003.
  • As signaled by the pickup in the growth rate of the leading index last year, real GDP increased at a 1.6 percent annual rate (preliminary) in the first quarter of 2004 up from a 0.8 percent average rate in the second half of 2003. However, the recent weakness in the leading index makes it uncertain that the current rate of economic growth will persist.

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

With a 0.4 percent decrease in March, the leading index now stands at 102.1 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index remained unchanged in February and decreased 0.5 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 0.7 percent, with five of the eight components increasing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 62.5 percent).

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

Holding steady in March, the coincident index now stands at 103.5 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in February and decreased 0.1 percent in January. During the six-month period through March, the coincident index increased 0.4 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 May 18, 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.