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Supplier deliveries, the interest rate spread and stock prices made large positive contributions to the LEI, which now stands at 102.5 (2004≡100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.9% in July and increased 0.8% in June. The six-month change in the index has picked up to 4.4% (about an 8.9% annual rate) in the period through August, up sharply from -2.4% (a -4.7% annual rate) for the previous six months. In addition, the strengths among the leading indicators have been widespread in recent months.
"Since reaching a peak in July 2007, the LEI fell for twenty months – the longest downtrend since the mid 1970s – but it has been rising since April and its gains have become very widespread," says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board. "The six-month growth rate of the LEI continues to accelerate. At the same time, the downtrend in the coincident economic index, measuring current economic activity, seems to be stabilizing, with the index flat so far this quarter."
The Conference Board CEI for the U.S. was unchanged in August, and July's flat reading was revised to a small increase due to an upward revision in industrial production. Between February and August 2009, the index fell 2.0% (about a -3.9% annual rate), slower than the decline of 3.8% (a -7.4% annual rate) for the previous six months. The CEI for the U.S. now stands at 99.8 (2004≡100).
In August, the lagging economic index for the U.S. continued to decrease, and with the coincident economic index remaining unchanged, the coincident-to-lagging ratio increased again. Meanwhile, real GDP fell at a 1.0% annual rate in the second quarter, following a contraction of 6.4% annual rate for the first quarter of the year. The LAG for the U.S. stands at 110.2 (2004≡100)
Says Ken Goldstein, Economist at The Conference Board: "The LEI has risen for five consecutive months and the coincident economic index has stopped falling. Taken together, this suggests that the recession is bottoming out. These numbers are consistent with the view that after a very severe downturn, a recovery is very near. But, the intensity and pattern of that recovery is more uncertain."