Leading Economic Index® Rocketship Ride Ends

Houston, we have a problem.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) has taken a break from its ballistic two year path – nothing remains ballistic forever.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. declined 0.3 percent in April to 114.0 (2004 = 100), following a 0.7 percent increase in March, and a 0.9 percent increase in February.

Says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board: “The U.S. LEI has been rising since March 2009, with only a brief one-month interruption in June 2010, and now, in April 2011. The U.S. CEI, a monthly measure of current economic conditions, continued to increase, supported by improving employment figures. Overall, the composite indexes still point to strengthening business conditions in the near term, although the path may be uneven.”

Says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board: “The economy has been growing moderately and delivering some new jobs. The U.S. LEI was rising strongly – up sharply in four of the five months through March – but slipped in April. Economic growth will likely continue through the summer and fall, but the pace of economic activity may be choppy.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.1 percent in April to 102.8 (2004 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in March, and a 0.1 percent decline in February.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) increased 0.5 percent in April to 108.8 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in March, and a 0.3 percent increase in February.

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.

Econintersect has forecast a market peak in April – and the LEI might be indicating this – who knows?  Econintersect’s favorite leading index from ECRI is not on any ballistic path.

Please also note the ECRI coincident index was in a decline in April while the Conference Board’s coincident index continued to rise.

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