The Conference Board Reports US Leading Economic Index® Declined 0.6% in April

The Conference Board, a non-partisan, not-for-profit think tank founded in 1916, released Thursday (5-18-23) its Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the US in April. According to the report, the LEI declined 0.6% in April to a reading of 107.5 (2016=100) after posting declines of 1.2% in March and 0.5% in February. The LEI has dropped 4.4% over the six-month period from October 2022 to April 2023—a much steeper rate of decline than its 3.8% contraction over the previous six-month period.

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) increased by 0.3% in April to a reading of 110.2 (2016=100) after an increase of 0.2% in both March and February. The CEI has increased by 0.7% over the six-month period from October 2022 to April 2023—down from the 0.9% growth it recorded over the previous six months. The CEI’s component indicators—payroll employment, personal income less transfer payments, manufacturing trade and sales, and industrial production—are included among the data used to determine recessions in the US. While recent trends in manufacturing activity and industrial production have been weak, employment and income growth remain positive.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) decreased by 0.1% in April to a reading of 118.3 (2016=100) after remaining unchanged in March but increasing 0.2% in February. The LAG has increased by 0.9% over the six-month period from October 2022 to April 2023—substantially less than the growth rate of 4.0% over the previous six-month period.

Adding additional background and her analysis to the April LEI, Senior Manager, Business Cycle Indicators at the Conference Board, Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, said:

“The LEI for the U.S. declined for the thirteenth consecutive month in April, signaling a worsening economic outlook. Weaknesses among underlying components were widespread—but less so than in March’s reading, which resulted in a smaller decline. Only stock prices and manufacturers’ new orders for both capital and consumer goods improved in April. Importantly, the LEI continues to warn of an economic downturn this year. The Conference Board forecasts a contraction of the economic activity starting in Q2 leading to a mild recession by mid-2023.”

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