Leading indicator for US strengthens 0.4% in March
The United States is experiencing further expansion in economic activity, though the monthly pace is slightly slower the Conference Board said on Thursday. "The gains among the leading indicators were very widespread, with new orders in manufacturing and the interest rate spread more than offsetting declines in the labor market components in March," said Ataman Ozyildirim, the organization's director of business cycles and growth research. He expressed belief growth may pick up if consumer spending and investment rebound.
The index of leading economic indicators (LEI) increased 0.4%, after 0.5% in February, and the six-month growth accelerated by 0.1 percentage points from the period from August through February, to 2.4%. In both cases the diffusion gauge was slightly lower, showing somewhat weaker positive contributions from the ten components. Still, a large majority showed increased strength, led by new orders and the interest rate spread, against a lag in the average week in manufacturing and initial unemployment claims.
The monthly and semiannual increase in the coincident index remained at 0.2% and 1%, respectively. The lagging gauge came in flat in March alone, after adding 0.2% in the previous update, and slowed in six-month growth by 0.1 points to 1.1%.