The Citigroup Surprise Index Chart: How Does the Data Compare to Expectations?

By  JAN 24, 2013 5:05 PM

A look at the index over the last three years shows that we're now entering negative territory.


The Citigroup Surprise Index for the US measures macroeconomic data vs. expectations.  When the economic data is coming in much better than expected, you’ll see a strongly positive number for the Surprise Index, and a strongly negative number for much worse-than-expected data.

Here is the Surprise Index for the US over the past three years:

US Citigroup Surprise Index, last three years, Courtesy of Bloomberg
Click to enlarge
I’ve circled in red the readings in January in 2010, 2011, and 2012, for a clean seasonal comparison. The current January reading is the same as January 2010, and much lower than January 2011 and January 2012. The index has entered negative territory, suggesting that economic data is, on balance, missing consensus estimates.

The broader market environment is ignoring the downturn in the data for now, and the market’s whims are stronger than any objective measure in the short term. But it’s one reason not to get too bulled up just because the SPX broke 1500.

This item by Enis Taner was originally published on

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