Monday, March 26, 2012

The Economic Surprise Index is now trending down

Notice how the US economic data coming out lately has been quite mediocre relative to expectations? For example, today's pending home sales came in -0.5% vs. +1% expected. Dallas Fed manufacturing activity came in at 10.8 with 16 expected. Citi has an index that tracks economic data surprises. Here is the definition:
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Indices are objective and quantitative measures of economic news. They are defined as weighted historical standard deviations of data surprises (actual releases vs Bloomberg survey median). A positive reading of the Economic Surprise Index suggests that economic releases have on balance beating consensus. The indices are calculated daily in a rolling three-month window. The weights of economic indicators are derived from relative high-frequency spot FX impacts of 1 standard deviation data surprises. The indices also employ a time decay function to replicate the limited memory of markets.
The index is now trending lower as the negative surprises are starting to weigh it down. The US economic forecasters have gotten a bit ahead of themselves, which may indicate a need for caution.

Citigroup Economic Surprise Index (Bloomberg)
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