Philly Fed Gets Worse in February, Leading Indicators Fail to Lead

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This morning brought the weekly jobless claims and the Consumer Price Index from the Labor Department. Now we have two more key bits of data hitting the tape. The Conference Board’s report on leading indicators is actually a January reading, but the weak Philadelphia Fed survey is a current reading for February.

The Conference Board reported that the January leading economic indicators rose by 0.2%. December was up 0.5%. Bloomberg had a consensus reading for a gain of 0.3%, and Dow Jones was also calling for 0.3% in January. The mix showed that six of the 10 components were higher. The lagging index was up 0.4%, and the coincident index was up 0.4%. While stock prices were up, consumer expectations were negative.

Another key report was from the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturers survey for the month of February. This showed a decrease in business activity as indicators for general activity, and new orders have now registered negative readings for the past two months. The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, decreased from a reading -5.8 in January to -12.5 for February. Sadly, Bloomberg was looking for things to get positive: 1.1 for this month. Demand and new orders were negative. We did see some good news on the region’s labor component as the employment index rose to 0.9 for this month from -5.2 in January, and that is the region’s first positive reading in eight months.

The S&P 500 is down 10 point at 1,501 and the DJIA is down about 60 points at 13,867.

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