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Conference Board Leading Economic Index Increases in January

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.1 percent in January, following a revised 0.8 percent increase in December, and a 1.1 percent increase in November. The Coincident Economic Index (CEI) increased 0.1 percent and The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index (LAG) decreased 0.1 percent.

 "With January's slight increase, following two large gains, the U.S. LEI is still pointing to economic expansion in the coming months," said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board. "Falling housing permits and weakening labor market indicators were barely offset by the continued positive contributions of the financial components.

"The LEI remains on a rising trend, with its growth rate picking up in recent months. However, current economic conditions, as measured by the coincident economic index, while improving slowly, remain weak."

The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. now stands at 112.3 (2004 = 100). Gains in the index were widespread.

Between July 2010 and January 2011, the LEI increased 3 percent (a 6.1 percent annual rate), moderately faster than the 2.2 percent (a 4.4 percent annual rate) of the previous six months.

The Conference Board CEI for the U.S., a measure of current economic activity, continued to increase in January with three of the four components advancing. The CEI for the U.S. now stands at 102.1 (2004=100). The six-month change in the index stands at 0.8 percent (a 1.6 percent annual rate) in the period through January 2011, down from 1.4 percent (a 2.8 percent annual rate) for the previous six months.

The lagging economic index fell slightly this month, and the coincident-to-lagging ratio rose, as a result. Meanwhile, real GDP grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2010, up from 2.6 percent annual rate in the third quarter.

The Conference Board LAG for the U.S. stands at 107.9 (2004=100) in January, with two of the seven components advancing.

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