The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. declined by 0.7 percent in September 2023 to 104.6 (2016=100), following a decline of 0.5 percent in August. The LEI is down 3.4 percent over the six-month period between March and September 2023, an improvement from its 4.6 percent contraction over the previous six months (September 2022 to March 2023). “The LEI for the US fell again in September, marking a year and a half of consecutive monthly declines since April 2022,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, Senior Manager, Business Cycle Indicators, at The Conference Board. “In September, negative or flat contributions from nine of the index’s ten components more than offset fewer initial claims for unemployment insurance. Although the six-month growth rate in the LEI is somewhat less negative, and the recession signal did not sound, it still signals risk of economic weakness ahead. So far, the US economy has shown considerable resilience despite pressures from rising interest rates and high inflation. Nonetheless, The Conference Board forecasts that this trend will not be sustained for much longer, and a shallow recession is likely in the first half of 2024.” The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for the U.S. increased by 0.3 percent in September 2023 to 110.9 (2016=100), after a 0.1 percent increase in August. The CEI is now up 1.1 percent over the six-month period between March and September 2023, compared to 0.4 percent growth over the previous six months. The CEI’s component indicators payroll employment, personal income less transfer payments, manufacturing trade and sales, and industrial production are included among the data used to determine recessions in the US. All four components of the index advanced in September, with personal income less transfer payments and employees on nonagricultural payrolls being the strongest contributors, followed by industrial production, and manufacturing and trade sales. Over the past six months, the CEI has improved, confirming that current economic activity remains positive. The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index (LAG) for the U.S. improved by 0.2 percent in September 2023 to 118.5 (2016 = 100), but it remains unchanged from last month due to revisions to underlying data, which downwardly revised headline readings for June, July, and August. The LAG is up slightly by 0.1 percent over the six-month period from March to September 2023, down substantially from its 1.2 percent growth over the previous six months.
Conference Board – Leading Economic Index (10-19-23)
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