NEW YORK--The Conference Board recently announced that the U.S. leading index increased by 0.6%, the coincident index held steady, and the lagging index decreased by 0.2% in January.

The leading index increased 2.2% from July 2001 to January 2002. The six-month diffusion index, which measures the number of components that are rising, has increased above 50% for the first time in 21 months.

The rate of decline of nonagricultural payrolls and industrial production has slowed in the last three and four months, respectively. Personal income and manufacturing sales have held their ground.

The coincident-to-lagging ratio is up for the fourth consecutive month in January.

Six of the ten indicators that make up the leading index increased in January. The positive contributors to the leading index were vendor performance, index of consumer expectations, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), building permits, money supply, and interest rate spread.

Two of the four indicators that make up the coincident index increased in January. The positive contributors to the index were personal income less transfer payments and manufacturing and trade sales.

The coincident index now stands at 115.4.

The lagging index decreased 0.2% to 102.6 in January.