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U.S. Leading Economic Index Climbs 0.7% In April, More Than Expected

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Suggesting the paltry economic growth in the first quarter may be temporary, the Conference Board released a report on Thursday showing that its index of leading U.S. economic indicators rose by much more than anticipated in April.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index advanced by 0.7 percent in April after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in March.

Economists had expected the index to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.2 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

The bigger than expected increase reflected positive contributions by seven of the ten indicators that make up the leading economic index.

Building permits, the interest rate spread, the Leading Credit Index, and average weekly initial jobless claims were among the biggest positive contributors.

Ataman Ozyildirim, Economist at the Conference Board, said, "The improvement in building permits helped to drive the index up this month, but gains in other components, in particular the financial indicators, have been somewhat more muted."

The Conference Board also said its coincident economic index edged up by 0.2 percent in April after slipping by 0.1 percent in March.

The rebound by the index reflected positive contributions from employees on non-farm payrolls, personal income less transfer payments, and manufacturing and trade sales.

Additionally, the report said the lagging economic index inched up by 0.1 percent in April following a 0.5 percent increase in March.

Positive contributions from the ratio of consumer installment credit outstanding to personal income and the ratio of manufacturing and trade inventories to sales led to the uptick by the index.

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