The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

The Conference Board Leading Economic Indicator Declines in September

Despite declines, U.S. economy still poised for expansion.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. declined 0.2 percent in September, with stock prices, building permits and average weekly hours making large negative contributions. The coincident economic index increased 0.2 percent and the lagging economic index (LAG) increased 0.5 percent in September.

“Despite September’s decline, the U.S. LEI still suggests economic expansion will continue, although at a moderate pace,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The recent weakness in stock markets, the manufacturing sector and housing permits was offset by gains in financial indicators, and to a lesser extent improvements in consumer expectations and initial claims for unemployment insurance. The U.S. economy is on track for moderate growth of about 2.5 percent in the coming quarters, despite the mixed global economic landscape.”

The Conference Board LEI now stands at 123.3 (2010=100). Despite the slight decline in the LEI, in the six-month period ending September 2015, the leading economic index increased 1.5 percent (about a 3.0 percent annual rate), slower than its growth of 1.9 percent (about a 3.9 percent annual rate) over the previous six months. The strengths among the leading indicators remain more widespread than the weaknesses.

The Conference Board CEI for the U.S., a measure of current economic activity, now stands at 112.8. The coincident economic index improved by 0.9 percent (about a 1.8 percent annual rate) between March and September 2015, slower than its growth of 1.3 percent (about a 2.6 percent annual rate) over the previous six months. However, the strengths among the coincident indicators remain widespread. Industrial production declined in September.

The lagging economic index increased at a faster pace than the CEI. As a result, the coincident-to-lagging ratio declined in September. Real GDP increased by 3.9 percent (annual rate) in the second quarter, up from 0.6 percent (annual rate) in the first quarter.

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