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Released: Monday, May 10, 2004

The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Korea decreased 0.2 percent and the coincident index decreased 0.3 percent in March.

  • The leading index declined slightly in March, but it continues to be extremely volatile from month to month because of large fluctuations in building permits and inventories. Despite this volatility, the leading index is still increasing at about a 6.0 percent annual rate, and this strength continues to be widespread. The coincident index also declined slightly in March, following three consecutive increases. As a result, the coincident index has increased at a 1.8 percent annual rate from its most recent low in July 2003.
  • Real GDP growth picked up to a 9.0 percent annual rate in the second half of 2003, consistent with the strengthening in the leading index early last year. The continued widespread growth in the leading index so far this year, despite the monthly volatility, is signaling a continuation of strong economic growth through the first half of 2004.

Leading Indicators. Five of the eight components that make up the leading index increased in March. The positive contributors - from the largest positive contributor to the smallest – were (inverted) yield of government public bonds, letter of credit arrivals*, real exports FOB, stock prices, and value of machinery orders. The (inverted) index of inventories to shipments, authorized building permits, and monthly hours worked* decreased in March.

With the 0.2 percent decrease in March, the leading index now stands at 122.6 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 1.6 percent in February and decreased 0.8 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the index increased 3.4 percent, with five of its eight components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 62.5 percent).

Coincident Indicators. Three of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in February. The positive contributors - from the largest positive contributor to the smallest – were total employment, industrial production, and wholesale and retail sales. The (inverted) unemployment rate declined in February.

With the 0.3 percent decrease in March, the coincident index now stands at 112.0 (1990=100). This index increased 0.2 percent in February and increased 0.5 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the coincident index increased 1.1 percent, with all four components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 100.0 percent).

Data Availability.The data series used to compute the two composite indexes reported in this release are those available “as of” 10 A.M. (ET) on May 6, 2004.

Notes: The series in the leading index based on The Conference Board’s estimates are monthly hours worked, and letter of credit arrivals in manufacturing. There is no forecasted series in the coincident index.


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