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U.S. Leading Economic Index Drops More Than Expected In December

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Reflecting large negative contributions from rising unemployment insurance claims and a drop in housing permits, the Conference Board released a report on Thursday showing a slightly bigger than expected decrease by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index fell by 0.3 percent in December after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in November

Economists had expected the leading economic index to dip by 0.2 percent compared to the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board, noted the leading index has now declined in four out of the last five months.

"Its six-month growth rate turned slightly more negative in the final quarter of 2019, with the manufacturing indicators pointing to continued weakness in the sector," Ozyildirim said.

He added, "However, financial conditions and consumers' outlook for the economy remain positive, which should support growth of about 2 percent through early 2020."

The report said the coincident economic index crept up by 0.1 percent in December after rising by 0.3 percent in November.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board said the lagging economic index edged down by 0.1 percent in December after climbing by 0.4 percent in the previous month.

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