Leading Index: ‘No Recession in 2024’

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. declined by 0.4% in January 2024 to 102.7, following a 0.2% decline in December 2023. The LEI contracted by 3.0% over the six-month period between July 2023 and January 2024, a smaller decrease than the 4.1% decline over the previous six months.

“The U.S. LEI fell further in January, as weekly hours worked in manufacturing continued to decline and the yield spread remained negative,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, senior manager, Business Cycle Indicators, at The Conference Board. “While the declining LEI continues to signal headwinds to economic activity, for the first time in the past two years, six out of its ten components were positive contributors over the past six-month period (ending in January 2024). As a result, the leading index currently does not signal recession ahead. While no longer forecasting a recession in 2024, we do expect real GDP growth to slow to near zero percent over Q2 and Q3.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. rose by 0.2% in January 2024 to 112.1, after a 0.2% increase in December 2023. The CEI expanded by 1.0% in the six-month period ending January 2024, down from a 0.8% growth rate 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 U.S. Three out of four components of the index were positive in January, with payroll employment and personal income less transfer payments having the strongest contributions, followed by a much smaller positive contribution from manufacturing and trade sales.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) for the U.S. rose by 0.4% in January 2024 to 118.6, reversing a decline of 0.4% in December 2023. The LAG is up by 0.9% over the six-month period from July to January 2024, following a decline of 0.1% over the previous six months.

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