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

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Suggesting economic growth should improve gradually over the first half of 2021, the Conference Board released a report on Monday showing a bigger than expected increase by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of January.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.5 percent in January after rising by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in December.

Economists had expected the leading economic index to rise by 0.3 percent, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

"As the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 accelerates, labor markets and overall growth are likely to continue improving through the rest of this year as well," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board.

He added, "The Conference Board now expects the U.S. economy to expand by 4.4 percent in 2021, after a 3.5 percent contraction in 2020."

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

Building permits, average weekly manufacturing hours, and the ISM New Orders Index were among the biggest positive contributors.

The Conference Board said the coincident economic index also edged up by 0.2 percent in January following a 0.1 percent uptick in December.

Meanwhile, the report said the lagging economic index fell by 0.6 percent in January after climbing by 0.5 percent in the previous month.

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