Reversing a slight decline in April, the Conference Board's index of leading U.S. economic indicators showed an unexpected increase in the month of May.
The Conference Board released a report Thursday showing that its leading economic index rose by 0.3 percent in May after edging down by 0.1 percent in April. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged.
Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, said, "Economic data in general reflect a U.S. economy that is growing modestly, neither losing nor gaining momentum. The result is more of a muddle through."
"Continued headwinds, both domestic and foreign, make further strengthening of the economy difficult," Goldstein added.
The increase by the leading index reflected positive contributions by seven of the ten indicators that make up the index, including building permits, the interest rate spread, and the ISM new orders index.
Meanwhile, negative contributions by the average workweek in manufacturing, stock prices and consumer expectations limited the upside for the index.
The report also showed that the coincident economic index rose by 0.2 percent in May, matching the increase seen in the previous month.
The increase reflected positive contributions from manufacturing and trade sales, personal income less transfer payments, and employees on non-farm payrolls.
Additionally, the lagging economic index increased by 0.3 percent in May following a 0.6 percent increase in April.
Four of the seven lagging index components increased during the month, including commercial and industrial loans outstanding and the change in unit labor costs.
by RTT Staff Writer
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