The Leading Economic Index continues its ballistic path in February 2011.
The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.8 percent in February to 113.4 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1 percent increase in January, and a 1.0 percent increase in December.
Says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board: “With February’s large gain, the U.S. LEI returned to the strengthening upward trend that began last September. The LEI is pointing to an economic expansion that should gain more momentum in the coming months. In February, improvements in labor markets, financial components, and consumer expectations more than offset falling housing permits.”
Says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board: “Latest data point to an improving economy, one that will continue to gain strength through the summer. The economy continues to encounter strong headwinds. One headwind is the sharp rise in food and energy prices. Still, the way inflation will move is unclear, given the degree of slack in the overall economy, and especially in the labor market.”
The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in February to 102.5 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in January, and a 0.3 percent increase in December. The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) increased 0.2 percent in February to 108.0 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent decline in January, and a 0.2 percent increase in December.
With February’s increase, the U.S. LEI is about 16.0 percent above its most recent trough in March 2009, and remains at an all-time historical high. However, the U.S. CEI, a measure of current economic conditions, is only about 3.0 percent above its most recent trough in June 2009, when the recession ended.
This index is based to a large extent on monetary measures which have been extraordinarily stimulative with interest rates set at artificially low levels by the Federal Reserve. For this reason, the hyper-values produced by this index are not necessarily linked to any real economic dynamics.