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U.S. Leading Economic Index Climbs Much More Than Expected In January

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Indicating the current economic expansion will continue through the first half of 2020, the Conference Board released a report on Thursday showing a much bigger than expected increase by its reading on leading U.S. economic indicators.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.8 percent in January after falling by 0.3 percent in December. Economists had expected the index to rise by 0.3 percent.

The bigger than expected rebound by the index reflected a sharp drop in initial jobless claims, increasing housing permits, an improvement in consumers' outlook on the economy and positive contributions from financial indicators.

"The LEI's six-month growth rate has returned to positive territory, suggesting that the current economic expansion - at about 2 percent - will continue through early 2020," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at the Conference Board.

He added, "While weakness in manufacturing appears to show signs of softening, the COVID-19 outbreak may impact manufacturing supply chains in the US in the coming months."

The report also said the coincident economic index inched up by 0.1 percent in January after showing no change in December.

Meanwhile, the lagging economic index came in unchanged in January after edging down by 0.1 percent in the previous month.

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