The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. declined by 0.5 percent in November 2023 to 103.0 (2016=100), following a (downwardly revised) decline of 1.0 percent in October. The LEI contracted by 3.5 percent over the six-month period between May and November 2023, a smaller decrease than its 4.3 percent contraction over the previous six months (November 2022 to May 2023).
“The US LEI continued declining in November, with stock prices making virtually the only positive contribution to the index in the month,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, Senior Manager, Business Cycle Indicators, at The Conference Board. “Housing and labor market indicators weakened in November, reflecting warning areas for the economy. The Leading Credit Index™ and manufacturing new orders were essentially unchanged, pointing to a lack of economic growth momentum in the near term. Despite the economy’s ongoing resilience—as revealed by the US CEI—and December’s improvement in consumer confidence, the US LEI suggests a downshift of economic activity ahead. As a result, The Conference Board forecasts a short and shallow recession in the first half of 2024.”
The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. rose by 0.2 percent in November 2023 to 111.2 (2016=100), after no change in October. The CEI is now up 1.0 percent over the six-month period between May and November 2023, compared to 0.7 percent growth over the previous six months. The CEI’s component indicators—payroll employment, personal income less transfer payments, manufacturing and trade sales, and industrial production—are included among the data used to determine recessions in the US. All four components of the index were positive in November, with personal income less transfer payments being the strongest contributor, followed by much smaller positive contributions from the remaining three components.
The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) for the U.S. rose by 0.5 percent in November 2023 to 119.2 (2016 = 100), following an increase of 0.3 percent in October. The LAG is up by 0.8 percent over the six-month period from May to November 2023, an improvement compared to 0.5 percent growth over the previous six months.
The annual growth rate of the LEI remains negative, and has hovered around −8% since Q1 2023
Equities were the only postive contribution to the LEI in November
Note: Starting with September 2023 release Leading Credit Index™ calculations (from 2020 to current) use the SOFR Overnight Financing Rate in the USD Swap spread semiannual 2 year instead of LIBOR rate. LIBOR remains in the USD Swap spread semiannual 2 year from 1990 to 2020.
The US LEI continues signaling recession
Note: The chart illustrates the so-called 3D’s rule which is a reliable rule of thumb to interpret the duration, depth, and diffusion – the 3D’s – of a downward movement in the LEI. Duration refers to how long-lasting a decline in the index is, and depth denotes how large the decline is. Duration and depth are measured by the rate of change of the index over the last six months. Diffusion is a measure of how widespread the decline is (i.e., the diffusion index of the LEI ranges from 0 to 100 and numbers below 50 indicate most of the components are weakening). The 3D’s rule provides signals of impending recessions 1) when the diffusion index falls below the threshold of 50 (denoted by the black dotted line in the chart), and simultaneously 2) when the decline in the index over the most recent six months falls below the threshold of -4.4 percent. The red dotted line is drawn at the threshold value (measured by the median, -4.4 percent) on the months when both criteria are met simultaneously. Thus, the red dots signal a recession.
About The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S.
The composite economic indexes are the key elements in an analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. The indexes are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning points in the economy in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component. The CEI is highly correlated with real GDP. The LEI is a predictive variable that anticipates (or “leads”) turning points in the business cycle by around 7 months. Shaded areas denote recession periods or economic contractions. The dates above the shaded areas show the chronology of peaks and troughs in the business cycle.
The ten components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® for the U.S. include: Average weekly hours in manufacturing; Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance; Manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials; ISM® Index of New Orders; Manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders; Building permits for new private housing units; S&P 500® Index of Stock Prices; Leading Credit Index™; Interest rate spread (10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds rate); Average consumer expectations for business conditions.
To access data, please visit: https://data-central.conference-board.org/