The Iowa Leading Indicators Index increased 0.4% in February to 110.4 from a revised 110.0 in January. The monthly diffusion index decreased to 56.3 in February from 62.5 in January.

The Iowa nonfarm employment coincident index recorded a 0.21% increase in February, the 11th month of growth in a row. February is the second month of increase in a row for the overall indicators index since a slight decrease in December, suggesting nonfarm employment will continue to improve in the long term.

Five of the eight components increased month over month in February: diesel fuel consumption, average weekly unemployment claims, the agricultural futures profit index, the Iowa Stock
Market Index and the national yield spread.

The new orders index, residential building permits, and average manufacturing hours detracted from the index.

The 12-month moving average of weekly unemployment claims decreased in February to 2,797, from 3,098 in January. Unemployment claims were 70.2% below February 2021 claims and 47.4% below average historical claims for February.

The AFPI contributed positively to the index with both grain commodities expecting profit gains while expected profits for cattle increased and expected profits for hogs decreased. February’s crush margin for hogs decreased 5.2% from January while the crush margin for cattle increased 2.1%.

In February the Iowa Stock Market Index increased to 141.08, from 138.65 in January, despite only 12 of the 30 companies gaining value, including two of the 10 financial sector companies.

The yield spread increased slightly to 1.62 in February from 1.61 in January. February is the 14th month in a row since December 2020 that the yield spread has been at or above 1.0%.

Diesel fuel consumption has increased 20% since February 2021. In February 2022, the number of taxable gallons increased to 67.82 million gallons from 66.85 million in January.

The 12-month moving average of weekly manufacturing hours detracted from the index in February but remains unchanged from January at 39.3 hours. February’s average hours were 39.1, below the 39.5 hours in February 2021, and more than an hour and a half below the historical monthly average.

The new orders index decreased to 69.1 in February from 70.4 in January. The 12-month moving average of the new orders index has increased from 62.4 in February 2021.

The full report is available online