U.S. Leading Economic Index Rises 0.7% In August, Slightly More Than Expected

LeadingIndicatorIndex 091913

Pointing to more pep in the pace of economic activity in the near term, the Conference Board released a report on Thursday showing that its index of leading U.S. economic indicators rose by slightly more than expected in the month of August.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index rose by 0.7 percent in August following a revised 0.5 percent increase in July and no change in June.

Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.6 percent, matching the growth originally reported for the previous month.

"After a brief pause, the U.S. LEI rose sharply in July and August, resuming its upward trend," said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at the Conference Board.

He added, "If the LEI's six-month growth rate, which has nearly doubled, continues in the coming months, economic growth should gradually strengthen through the end of the year."

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

The positive contributors included the interest rate spread, the ISM new orders index, average weekly initial jobless claims, and average weekly manufacturing hours.

The report also showed that the coincident economic index rose by 0.2 percent in August after inching up by 0.1 percent in July.

The modest increase by the coincident economic index reflected positive contributions from all of the components that make up the index.

The Conference Board also said the lagging economic index increased by 0.3 percent by in August after edging down by 0.1 percent in July.

Positive contributions from commercial and industrial loans outstanding, the ratio of consumer installment credit to personal income, the change in unit labor costs and the ratio of manufacturing and trade inventories to sales contributed to the rebound by the lagging index.

"The latest reading points to more pep in the pace of economic activity in the near term," said Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board.

"One unknown is how resilient confidence will remain, both consumer and business, given the mixed signals from the housing and labor markets," he added. "Perhaps the bigger question is a satisfactory resolution to federal budget squabbles."

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