The Latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for September is now available. The index rose 0.8 percent to 104.4. August was revised downward to 103.6 percent (2004 = 100). The latest number came in above the 0.6 percent forecast by Investing.com.
Here is an overview from the LEI technical notes:
The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased in September after no change in August. The financial components, along with initial claims for unemployment insurance and ISM® new orders, made the largest positive contributions this month. In the six-month period ending September 2014, the leading economic index increased 3.5 percent (about a 7.1 percent annual rate), faster than the growth of 2.7 percent (about a 5.6 percent annual rate) during the previous six months. Also, the strengths among the components became more widespread than weaknesses in the past six months. [Full notes in PDF]
Here is a chart of the LEI series with documented recessions as identified by the NBER.
And here is a closer look at this indicator since 2000. We can more readily see that the recovery from the 2000 trough weakened in 2012 but began trending higher in the latter part of the year.
For a more details on the latest data, here is an excerpt from the press release:
“The LEI picked up in September, after no change in August, and the strengths among its components have been very widespread over the past six months,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Economist at The Conference Board. “The outlook for improving employment and further income growth are expected to support the moderate expansion in the U.S economy for the remainder of the year.”
“The financial markets are reflecting turmoil and unease, but the data on the leading indicators continue to suggest moderate growth in the short-term,” said Ken Goldstein, Economist at The Conference Board. “Meanwhile, the weak advances in the housing market remain a bigger risk to the outlook than short-term financial gyrations.”
For a better understanding of the relationship between the LEI and recessions, the next chart shows the percentage off the previous peak for the index and the number of months between the previous peak and official recessions.
Here is a look at the rate of change, which gives a closer look at behavior of the index in relation to recessions.
And finally, here is the same snapshot, zoomed in to the data since 2000.
Check back next month for an updated analysis.