Conference Board Leading Economic Index: Rebound in October

The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for October increased to 130.4 from 128.9 in September. The Coincident Economic Index (CEI) came in at 116.2, up from the previous month.

The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased sharply in October, driven by positive contributions from almost all its underlying components. In the six-month period ending October 2017, the leading economic index increased 2.9 percent (about a 5.9 percent annual rate), faster than the growth of 2.3 percent (about a 4.6 percent annual rate) during the previous six months. In addition, the strengths among the leading indicators have become more widespread. [Full notes in PDF]

Here is a log-scale chart of the LEI series with documented recessions as identified by the NBER. The use of a log scale gives us a better sense of the relative sizes of peaks and troughs than a more conventional linear scale.

Conference Board's LEI

For additional perspective on this indicator, see the latest press release, which includes this overview:

“The US LEI increased sharply in October, as the impact of the hurricanes dissipated,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. “The growth of the LEI, coupled with widespread strengths among its components, suggests that solid growth in the US economy will continue through the holiday season and into the new year.”

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.

LEI from Peak