While jobs, manufacturing, and housing data may be choppy, a core measure of economic velocity has not been. The Conference Boards Leading Economic Indicators rose for a sixth month in March. The level posted was 95.7, against the 2004 benchmark of 100. Based on the eight year comparison, the current state is still worrisome.
The LEI for the U.S. increased 0.3%, following a 0.7% increase in February, and a 0.2% increase in January.
Commenting, Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board said
“The LEI increased for the sixth consecutive month, pointing to a more positive outlook despite subdued consumer expectations and weakness in manufacturing new orders. Moreover, the six-month growth rate of the LEI continues to improve. The CEI, a measure of current economic conditions, has also increased in five of the last six months, with broad based gains in all components.”
Again, despite the improvements, the numbers need to be taken on a relative basis. Economic activity is still far behind what it was in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Even at the current rate of improvement it will take well over a year to return to those levels
Douglas A. McIntyre