Leading economic indicators on the rise

The U.S. economy is expected to continue strengthening, possibly picking up this spring and summer, according the Conference Board, which said today that its Leading Economic Index (LEI) grew 0.4 percent to 94.9 in January, led by the interest-rate spread and manufacturing hours.

January’s rise follows a 0.5 percent increase in December and a 0.3 percent increase in November.

“This fourth consecutive gain in the LEI reflected fairly widespread strength among its components, pointing to somewhat more positive economic conditions in early 2012,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, a Conference Board economist.

The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators that are designed to signal business cycle peaks and troughs. Among the 10 indicators that make up the LEI, seven made positive contributions in January. There were three negative contributors.
Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, said, “Recent data reflect an economy that started the year on a positive note. The CEI shows some small signs of economic strengthening in the fourth quarter and continued to point in this direction in January. The LEI suggests these conditions will continue and could possibly even pick up this spring and summer.”

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