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The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.5 percent in February to 99.8, following a 0.1 percent increase in January, and a 0.1 percent decrease in December. The coincident economic index (CEI) increased 0.2 percent and the lagging economic index (LEI) increased 0.3 percent in February.
“The U.S. LEI increased sharply in February, suggesting that any weather-related volatility will be short lived and the economy should continue to improve into the second half of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board. “The strengths and weaknesses in the LEI were balanced in February, with large increases in housing permits and the interest rate spread more than offsetting decreases in the workweek in manufacturing, consumer expectations and rising initial claims for unemployment insurance.”
The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. now stands at 122.1 (2004=100). The CEI for the U.S., a measure of current economic activity, increased to 108.2 (2004=100).
“While the CEI shows the pace of economic activity remained slow at the start of 2014, the trend in the LEI remains quite positive,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board. “The biggest challenge continues to be weak consumer demand, pinned down by weak wage growth. These conditions were still in evidence the first two months of the year, but will likely improve as spring arrives.”