The US Conference Board is most known for its consumer confidence indices.  Unfortunately, this has been doing an impersonation of someone falling off a cliff recently; it’s been going down, down and down.

But take cheer, because another index from the Conference Board, which paints a much broader view of the US economy, rose in April, for the first time in six months.

The “Leading Index” from the Conference Board takes into account data relating to employment and unemployment, manufacturers’ orders, vendor performance, new orders, building permits, stock prices, money supply, interest rate spread and index of consumer expectations.  It rose by 0.1 per cent.

Okay, that is a tiny rise, but when you consider the index was down for each of the previous five months, any change in direction must be potentially significant.

The index stood at 103.2 points in October, around the series’ all-time high, and now stands at 102.

The Conference Board has been publishing this data since the late 1950s, and dips in the index for more than a few months have nearly always coincided with US recessions.

We will keep an eye open for this report next month; it will be very interesting to see whether the rise continues.

© Investment & Business News 2013