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First Cut: Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index down 0.1% in December, no annual revision published

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index for December edged down 0.1%, a minor decline and one that does not suggest any appreciable slowdown in the economy going forward. Still, it was a second negative in the past three months and pointed to diminished upward momentum for the US economy toward the end of 2018.

The index had six positive contributors, the largest of which was due to declines in initial jobless claims for the month. As might be expected, of the three negative contributors, stock prices were a substantial offset to the outlook.

The report was supposed to include annual revisions, but the delays in some economic data reports related to the partial federal government shutdown cause The Conference Board to wait.

The Conference Board said, “Please note that due to the government shutdown, data for manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials for November and December and building permits were not published for December. The Conference Board has forecasted these series in order to publish a preliminary Leading Economic Index. Data for manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft for November are from the advance report for Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories & Orders. In addition, The Conference Board is postponing the regularly scheduled annual benchmark revision of the composite indicators until all underlying data are available.”


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