NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--A new data series may give a more immediate read of U.S. economic activity, especially among goods producers. More timely information would improve the accuracy of economic forecasts.
The Ceridian-UCLA pulse of commerce index is based on fuel consumption by truckers using credit cards processed by Ceridian, a business services company. By tracking the volume and location of diesel fuel purchases, the index monitors the transportation of agricultural goods, raw materials and finished goods from the source of production or importation to the warehouse, factory and final retailer.
Edward Leamer, professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, oversees the index for Ceridian. He has found that by tracking the movement of materials and goods, the index offers insight into inventory rebuilding, factory production and retail activity. In addition, the index can be broken down geographically. That will provide information on regional activity, from port activity in Los Angeles to auto parts shipments in Michigan.
Back-testing of the data to 1999 shows the index closely matches growth in real gross domestic product and changes in the Federal Reserve's industrial production data.
The index's main advantage over other data is its timeliness. The index is scheduled for release at 8:00 a.m. (ET) on the 10th day of each month--about four or five days before the Fed's industrial report. Because Ceridian can access all fuel purchases in real time, the index won't be subject to revisions.
The January report will be released Feb. 10. Data will be available at the Web site, www.ceridianindex.com.
-By Kathleen Madigan, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2466; firstname.lastname@example.org
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 28, 2010 14:30 ET (19:30 GMT)
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