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Conference Board Leading Economic Index Increases in March

The Conference Board leading economic index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.8 percent in March to 100.9, following a 0.5 percent increase in February, and a 0.2 percent increase in January. The coincident economic index (CEI) increased 0.2 percent and the lagging economic index (LAG) increased 0.6 percent in March.

“The LEI rose sharply again, the third consecutive monthly increase,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board. “After a winter pause, the leading indicators are gaining momentum and economic growth is gaining traction. While the improvements were broad-based, labor market indicators and the interest rate spread largely drove the March increase, offsetting the negative contribution from building permits. And, for the first time in many months, the consumer outlook is much less negative.”

The Conference Board LAG for the U.S. now stands at 123.0 (2004=100). The CEI for the U.S., a measure of current economic activity, increased to 108.3 (2004=100).

“The March increase in the LEI suggests accelerated growth for the remainder of the spring and the summer,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board. “The economy is rebounding from widespread inclement weather and the strengthening in the labor market is beginning to have a positive impact on growth. Overall, this is an optimistic report, but the focus will continue to be on whether improvements in the labor market can be sustained, fueling stronger economic performance over the next few months.”

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