FORECAST FOR CLEAR SKIES

LEI STILL SHOWS LOW ODDS OF RECESSION

Weekly Economic Commentary

By John J. Canally, Jr., CFA Chief Economic Strategist, LPL Financial  

Last week, global equity markets, including in the U.S., were driven lower by a variety of fears, most notably the weakness in China’s economy and financial markets, as well as the Chinese government’s response (or lack thereof). As a new trading week (August 24 – 28, 2015) begins, the S&P 500 is in the midst of its first 10% pullback since late 2011, triggering talk of recession signals. The latest reading on the Conference Board’s monthly Leading Economic Index (LEI) — released last week for July 2015 — helps to provide some timely guidance in this area.

The LEI is one of our “Five Forecasters” (see our Midyear Outlook 2015: Some Assembly Required for further discussion) and provides a valuable guidepost each month as to where we are in the economic expansion. As noted in our Outlook 2015: In Transit, when the economy has not been in recession, the S&P 500 has been positive 82% of the time and provided low double-digit returns. When the economy has been in recession, the S&P 500 has been positive just 50% of the time, with average returns in the low single digits. The latest reading on the LEI, based on data from July 2015, revealed that the LEI had climbed 4.1% since July 2014. The LEI is designed to predict the probable path of the economy 6 – 12 months in the future. Since 1960, a span of 667 months (or 55 years and 7 months), the LEI’s year-over-year increase has been at least 4.1% in 333 months. Not surprisingly, the U.S. economy was not in recession in any of those 333 months. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the economy was in recession in July 2015, despite the impact of the weakening Chinese economy, the stronger…

Read the Full Report here: WEC_082415