Commerce Spins Off Three Indexes

PRIVATIZATION MARCHES ON: On Dec. 29, the government's primary gauge of future economic conditions moves to the private sector. The index of leading indicators will be computed and published by the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group known for its surveys of consumer confidence. The Commerce Dept. is spinning off the 47-year-old index--along with its siblings, the lagging and coincident indicators--to save about $450,000 a year, funds that will be devoted to improving other statistics. The three indexes are second-hand figures derived from other government and private statistics, but they can still move markets: "A proven record in data security" was one of the Conference Board's prime qualifications.

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