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BIEC: economic climate improves in March


2011-03-27



The Leading Indicator (WWK), which provides information on future trends in the economy, gained 1.8 points in March, reversing around half of its last month’s fall, the Bureau for Investments and Economic Cycles (BIEC) reported. Despite the improvement, there is a growing question mark over the prospect for economic growth accelerating further in the months ahead, the Bureau commented.

Of the eight component indicators of the WWK, four improved in March, one remained unchanged while three deteriorated. The biggest contributor to the monthly gain was a sharp rise in labour productivity, helped by slower wage growth; there were also (small) improvements in managers’ assessments of their companies’ financial situation and the general economic outlook, as well as a slight increase in household debt (reflecting, however, mainly currency movements). At the same time, new manufacturing orders fell again (though some sectors, such as cars and electrical equipment, reported moderate increases), which the Bureau considers as the chief source of concern for the future. This led to a further rise in inventories of finished goods (one notable exception being makers of investment goods, who reported a fall in stocks). Inventories have been growing at an accelerated pace since the start of the year.

The WWK is a prognostic instrument. It is a measure of the current state of economic activity and provides advanced information on upturns and downturns in economic activity in relation to GDP as well as data on production, retail sales, wages and household incomes. The average prognostic timeframe of the WWK index in relation to the actual state of economic affairs ranges from 3 to 12 months, depending on the phase of the economic cycle.



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