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The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Germany increased 0.2 percent, while the coincident index declined 0.5 percent in August.

  • The leading index increased for the third consecutive month in August and has now increased at about a 3.5 percent annual rate from its recent low in March. In addition, the strength in the leading index has been widespread over this period.
  • The coincident index declined in August and it has been on a downward trend over the past year and a half. The weakness in the coincident index is consistent (with the normal lag) with the decline in the leading index earlier this year. Correspondingly, real GDP has declined slightly over the last three quarters.
  • The improvement in the leading index since March is signaling a moderate pickup in economic growth during the second half of the year. In addition, this month's increase makes it more likely that the long decline in the leading index over the preceding three years has come to an end.

LEADING INDICATORS. Five of the eight components in the leading index increased in August. The positive contributors to the leading index - in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest - are new residential construction orders, stock prices, new orders in investment goods industries, the yield spread, and the inventory change series*. Two of the eight components in the leading index decreased in August. The negative contributors to the leading index -in order from the larger to the smaller negative contributor- are the growth rate of CPI for services and gross enterprises and properties income*. Consumer confidence remained unchanged in August.

With a 0.2 percent increase in August, the leading index now stands at 100.9 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.6 percent in July and increased 0.5 percent in June. During the six-month span through August, the leading index increased 0.9 percent, with five of the eight components increasing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 62.5 percent).

COINCIDENT INDICATORS. One of the four components that make up the coincident index increased in August. The positive contributor to the coincident index was employed persons. Manufacturing sales, retail trade sales, and industrial production decreased in August.

With a 0.5 percent decline in August, the coincident index now stands at 108.2 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index held steady in July and decreased 0.1 percent in June. During the six-month period through August, the coincident index decreased 1.8 percent, with only one of the four components increasing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 12.5 percent).

*See notes under data availability

The next release is scheduled for November 24, 2003 at 9:30 A.M. (ET)
In Germany -November 24, 2003 at 3:30 P.M. (CET)

DATA AVAILABILITY. The data series used by The Conference Board to compute the two composite indexes reported in the tables in this release are those available "as of" 10 A.M. ET on October 22, 2003. Some series are estimated as noted below.

NOTES: Series in the leading index for Germany that are based on The Conference Board estimates are inventory change and gross enterprises and properties income. Series in the coincident index for Germany that are based on The Conference Board estimates is employed persons.

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Professional Contacts at The Conference Board:
Indicator Program: 1-212-339-0336

Media Contacts:
Randy Poe: 1-212-339-0234
Frank Tortorici: 1-212-339-0231


THE CYCLICAL INDICATOR APPROACH. The composite indexes are the key elements in an analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. The leading and coincident indexes are essentially composite averages of between four and nine individual leading or coincident indicators. (See page 3 for details.) They are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component-primarily because they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.

Historically, the cyclical turning points in the leading index have occurred before those in aggregate economic activity, while the cyclical turning points in the coincident index have occurred at about the same time as those in aggregate economic activity.

A change in direction in a composite index does not signal a cyclical turning point unless the movement is of significant size, duration, and scope. Historical analysis with U.S. data shows recession warnings are best determined by looking for negative growth of about 3.5 percent (annualized), coupled with declines in at least half of the components over a six-month span. Further explanations of the cyclical indicator approach and the composite index methodology appear in The Conference Board's Business Cycle Indicators report and Web

Germany Composite Indexes: Components and Standardization Factors
 Leading IndexFactor
1.New Orders, Investment Goods.0845
2.Yield Spread, 10 year minus 3 month.3295
3.Change in Inventories.1250
4.Gross Enterprise and Property Income.0761
5.Stock Prices.0321
6.New Orders, Residential Construction.0556
7.Growth Rate for Consumer Price Index for Services.1918
8.Consumer Confidence Index.1055
Coincident Index
1.Manufacturing Sales.1958
2.Industrial Production.4074
3.Retail sales.3499
4.Persons Employed.0469

The standardization factors are inversely related to the standard deviation of the month-to-month changes in each component. They are used to equalize the volatility of the contribution from each component and are "normalized" to sum to 1. These factors are revised effective with the May 22, 2003 release, and all historical values for the two composite indexes have been revised to reflect these changes. (Under normal circumstances, updates to the leading and coincident indexes only incorporate revisions to data over the past six months.)

The factors above were calculated using 1992-2000 as the sample period for measuring volatility for the leading index, and 1991-2000 as the sample period for the coincident index. There are additional sample periods as the result of different starting dates for the component data. When one or more components is missing, the other factors are adjusted proportionately to ensure that the total continues to sum to 1. For additional information on the standardization factors and the index methodology visit our Web site:

To address the problem of lags in available data, those leading and coincident indicators that are not available at the time of publication are estimated using statistical imputation. An autoregressive model is used to estimate each component. The resulting indexes are constructed using real and estimated data, and will be revised as the data unavailable at the time of publication become available. Such revisions are part of the monthly data revisions, now a regular part of the U.S. Business Cycle Indicators program. The main advantage of this procedure is to utilize in the leading index the data, such as stock prices, that are available sooner than other data on "real" aspects of the economy, such as new orders and changes in inventory. Empirical research by The Conference Board suggests there are real gains in adopting this procedure to make all the indicator series as up-to-date as possible.


Release Schedule:

September 2003 Data.....Monday, November 24, 2003
October 2003 Data..... Monday, December 22, 2003

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE BOARD. Founded in 1916, The Conference Board is the premier business membership and research network. The Conference Board has become a global leader in helping executives build strong professional relationships, expand their business knowledge and find solutions to a wide range of business challenges. The Board's Economics Program, under the direction of Chief Economist Gail Fosler, is a recognized source of forecasts, economic analysis and objective indicators such as the Leading Economic Indicators and the Consumer Confidence Index.

This role is part of a long tradition of research and education that stretches back to the compilation of the first continuous measure of the cost of living in the United States in 1919. In 1995, The Conference Board assumed responsibility for computing the composite indexes from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Conference Board now produces business cycle indexes for the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the U.K. To subscribe to any of these indexes, please visit or contact the Global Indicators Research Institute at 212-339-0330 or email


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