Business Cycle Report (May 27, 2021)

by Thomas Wash | PDF

The business cycle has a major impact on financial markets; recessions usually accompany bear markets in equities.  The intention of this report is to keep our readers apprised of the potential for recession, updated on a monthly basis.  Although it isn’t the final word on our views about recession, it is part of our process in signaling the potential for a downturn.

In April, the diffusion index rose further above the recession indicator, signaling that the recovery remains in place. In the financial markets, positive economic data and reassurances that the Fed will continue to support the economy led to a moderation in Treasury yields and a rise in equities. Meanwhile, construction and manufacturing activity slowed as increasing costs for materials are becoming a problem for homebuilders and factories. Lastly, the labor market showed signs of weakness as hiring slowed and the unemployment rate rose. As a result, three out of the 11 indicators are in contraction territory. The reading for April rose from +0.2727 to +0.3484, above the recession signal of +0.2500.

The chart above shows the Confluence Diffusion Index. It uses a three-month moving average of 11 leading indicators to track the state of the business cycle. The red line signals when the business cycle is headed toward a contraction, while the blue line signals when the business cycle is headed toward a recovery. On average, the diffusion index is currently providing about six months of lead time for a contraction and five months of lead time for a recovery. Continue reading for a more in-depth understanding of how the indicators are performing and refer to our Glossary of Charts at the back of this report for a description of each chart and what it measures. A chart title listed in red indicates that indicator is signaling recession.

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