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Global Business Cycle Indicators


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Benchmark Revisions - January 2008

Press Release Archive

Released: Monday, December 22, 2008

Next month's release will incorporate annual benchmark revisions to the composite indexes, which bring them up-to-date with revisions in the source data. Also, the base year of the composite indexes will be changed to 2004=100 from 1990=100. These revisions do not change the cyclical properties of the indexes. The indexes are updated throughout the year, but only for the previous six months. Data revisions that fall outside of the moving six-month window are not incorporated until the benchmark revision is made and the entire histories of the indexes are recomputed. As a result, the revised indexes will no longer be comparable to those issued prior to the benchmark revision.

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The Conference Board announced today that the leading index for Australia declined 0.5 percent and the coincident index increased 0.2 percent in October.

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  • The leading index decreased for the second consecutive month in October. Share prices, building approvals, and the yield spread continued to make negative contributions to the index this month, more than offsetting the large increases in rural goods exports and money supply. Index levels were revised moderately lower from May to September as new data for the sales-to-inventories ratio and gross operating surplus for the third quarter of 2008 became available. The six-month change in the leading index has continued to fall, dipping to 0.2 percent (a 0.4 percent annual rate) in the period through October, down from 1.6 percent (a 3.3 percent annual rate) between October 2007 and April 2008. In addition, the strengths among the leading indicators have been roughly balanced with the weaknesses over the past six months.
  • The coincident index increased again in October, and the strengths among its components have remained fairly widespread. Index levels were revised slightly upwards for the past several months as new quarterly data for household gross disposable income became available. Since April, the coincident index has risen 1.2 percent (a 2.4 percent annual rate), modestly faster than the increase of 0.9 percent (a 1.8 percent annual rate) during the previous six months. Meanwhile, real GDP growth slowed to a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, down sharply from the 1.9 percent average annual rate of growth in the first half of 2008.
  • The leading index has weakened this year, with its growth essentially stalling since the summer and declining over the past two months. The coincident index, a measure of current economic conditions, remains on a rising trend that began in early 2006. The continued weakening in the leading index suggests that slow economic growth will continue in the near term.

LEADING INDICATORS. Four of the seven components in the leading index increased in October. The positive contributors to the index — in order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest — are rural goods exports*, money supply*, gross operating surplus*, and the sales to inventories ratio*. Share prices, building approvals*, and yield spread declined in October.

With the 0.5 percent decrease in October, the leading index now stands at 188.3 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index declined 0.4 percent in September and increased 0.4 percent in August. During the six-month period through October, the leading index increased 0.2 percent, and three of the seven components increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 57.1 percent).

COINCIDENT INDICATORS. Two of the four components in the coincident index increased in October. The increases — in order from the larger positive contributor to the smaller — occurred in employed persons and household gross disposable income*. Retail trade and industrial production* declined in October.

With the increase of 0.2 percent in October, the coincident index now stands at 146.9 (1990=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in September and increased 0.3 percent in August. During the six-month period through October, the coincident index increased 1.2 percent, with three of the four components in the series making positive contributions (diffusion index, six-month span equals 75.0 percent).

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 December 19, 2008. Some series are estimated as noted below.

NOTES: Series in the leading index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are sales to inventory ratio and gross operating surplus for private non-financial corporations, the implicit price index used to deflate rural goods exports and building approvals, and the CPI used to deflate money supply M3. Series in the coincident index that are based on The Conference Board estimates are industrial production and household disposable income. CPI was used to deflate retail trade.