The Iowa Leading Indicators Index increased to 105 in February 2021 from 104.7 in January, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue. February marks the fifth month in a row that the index has not shown contractionary signals.

The Iowa nonfarm employment coincident index recorded a 0.45% decline in February. The six-month diffusion index increased to 75 in February from 62.5 in January. Five of the eight components added to the index's monthly increase in February: new orders, the Iowa Stock Market Index, agricultural futures profits, residential building permits and the national yield spread. Average manufacturing hours, average weekly unemployment claims and diesel fuel consumption dragged down the index.

The monthly value of the new orders index increased to 80.2 from the 59.9 seen in February 2020. During February 2021, 24 of the 31 companies in the Iowa Stock Market Index gained value, and eight of the 11 financial-sector companies increased. The index increased to 108.11 in February from a revised 101.74 in January.

The agricultural futures profit index contributed 0.09 to the Iowa Leading Indicators Index, with both grain commodities and live hogs expecting to have profit gains, while the expected profit for cattle decreased. Residential building permits contributed 0.08, with the 12-month moving average increasing to 1,073 from 1,045 in January; February 2021 permits were 76.5% above February 2020, and 44.4% above the monthly historical average from 1998 to 2020.

The yield spread expanded to 1.2% in February from 1% in January; February is the second month in a row since May 2018 that the yield spread has been at or above 1%.

The full Iowa Leading Indicators Index report is available online