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Leading economic indicators rose in February

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The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in February to 121.4 (2010 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in January, and a 0.4 percent increase in December.

"Widespread gains among the leading indicators continue to point to short-term growth," said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board. "However, easing in the LEI's six-month change suggests that we may be entering a period of more moderate expansion. With the February increase, the LEI remains in growth territory, but weakness in the industrial sector and business investment is holding economic growth back, despite improvements in labor markets and consumer confidence."

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in February to 111.9 (2010 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in January, and a 0.3 percent increase in December.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) for the U.S. increased 0.3 percent in February to 115.8 (2010 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in January, and a 0.2 percent increase in December.

The composite economic indexes are the key elements in an analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. The leading, coincident, and lagging economic indexes are essentially composite averages of several individual leading, coincident, or lagging indicators. They are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component – primarily because they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® for the U.S. include:

Average weekly hours, manufacturing
Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
Manufacturers' new orders, consumer goods and materials
ISM® Index of New Orders 
Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
Building permits, new private housing units
Stock prices, 500 common stocks
Leading Credit Index™
Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
Average consumer expectations for business conditions

For more information about The Conference Board global business cycle indicators:

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world's leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

Summary Table of Composite Economic Indexes
  2014   2015   6-month
  Dec   Jan   Feb   Aug to Feb
Leading Index 120.8   121.1   121.4 p    
  Percent Change 0.4   0.2   0.2 p 2.4  
  Diffusion 75.0   60.0   70.0   75.0  
Coincident Index 111.5 r 111.7 r 111.9 p    
  Percent Change 0.3 r 0.2   0.2 p 1.6  
  Diffusion 75.0   75.0   100.0   100.0  
Lagging Index 115.0   115.4 r 115.8 p    
  Percent Change 0.2 r 0.3   0.3 p 1.4  
  Diffusion 64.3   85.7   78.6   64.3  
p  Preliminary     r  Revised                
Indexes equal 100 in 2010                
Source:  The Conference Board              
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