Leading Economic Indicators Up in March, Following Earlier Revisions

Sorohan, Mike msorohan@mba.org

April 22, 2016

The Conference Board, Leading Economic Index increased by 0.2 percent in March, below consensus estimates, while data revisions showed declines in the previous three months.

The LEI increased to 123.4, following an 0.1 percent decline in February and an 0.2 percent decline in January. The Coincident Economic Index was unchanged in March at 113.3, following an 0.1 percent increase in February and an 0.3 percent increase in January. The Lagging Economic Index increased by 0.4 percent in March to 120.9, following an 0.5 percent increase in February and a 0.1 percent increase in January.

"With the March gain, the U.S. LEI's six-month growth rate improved slightly but still points to slow, although not slowing, growth in the coming quarters," said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research with The Conference Board. "Rebounding stock prices were offset by a decline in housing permits, but nonetheless there were widespread gains among the leading indicators. Financial conditions, as well as expected improvements in manufacturing, should support a modest growth environment in 2016."

Tim Quinlan, economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said the downward revisions suggested "trouble in the rearview mirror," but said the road ahead looks clearer.

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