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"The economy has been growing moderately and delivering some new jobs," says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board. "The U.S. LEI was rising strongly – up sharply in four of the five months through March – but slipped in April. Economic growth will likely continue through the summer and fall, but the pace of economic activity may be choppy."
The LEI for the U.S. now stands at 114.0 (2004 = 100). A majority of the components contributed negatively to the index this month, led by weekly initial unemployment insurance claims (inverted), supplier deliveries, and building permits.
With this month's decline, the six-month change in the index moderated to 3.5 percent (a 7.2 percent annual rate), but remains above the growth rate of 1.4 percent (a 2.8 percent annual rate) for the previous six months. In addition, the strengths among the leading indicators have been widespread in recent months.
The CEI for the U.S., a measure of current economic activity, now stands at 102.8 (2004 = 100). The index rose 1.3 percent (a 2.6 percent annual rate) in the six months through April 2011, faster than the growth of 0.7 percent (a 1.4 percent annual rate) for the previous six months. In addition, the strengths among the coincident indicators have remained very widespread, with all components advancing over the past six months.
The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index increased to 108.8 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in March, and a 0.3 percent increase in February. The lagging economic index continued to increase faster than the CEI, and the coincident-to-lagging ratio fell again, as a result.
Meanwhile, real GDP expanded at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year, slower than the growth of 3.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2010.
"Overall, the composite indexes still point to strengthening business conditions in the near term, although the path may be uneven," says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board.