With unemployment down in February to 8.9% from 9.0% in January, having fallen 0.9% since November 2010, and the U.S. consumer credit charge-offs declining for the fifth consecutive month of improvement by another 32 basis points (bps) to 8.05%, the Conference Board also has some good news. Its Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.8% in February to 113.4, following a 0.1 percent increase in January, and a 1.0 percent increase in December. This continues an upward trend that began last September on the index, which should gain more momentum in the coming months and is about 16.0% above March 2009 figures to stay at an all-time historical high.
Strongly indicating an improving economy, the improved index coincides with card defaults having hit their lowest levels since February 2009, down 29% since the year ago period with a 30% drop from its peak during September 2009, and its improving Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for the U.S. The CEI was up 0.2% in February to 102.5 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3% increase in January, and a 0.3% increase in December, but is still only about 3.0% above June 2009 figures when the recession ended (CardFlash Library, 2011-03-14).