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U.S. Leading Economic Index Climbs More Than Expected In January

Pointing to a positive economic outlook in the first half of the year, the Conference Board released a report on Friday showing a bigger than expected increase by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of January.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.6 percent in January after rising by 0.5 percent in December. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.4 percent.

"The January gain was broad based among the leading indicators," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at the Conference Board. "If this trend continues, the U.S. economy may even accelerate in the near term."

The bigger than expected increase reflected positive contributions from eight of the ten indicators that make up the index.

The interest rate spread, building permits, average weekly initial jobless claims and the ISM new orders index were among the largest positive contributors.

The Conference Board said the only negative contributor was manufacturers' new orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, while average weekly manufacturing hours held steady.

The report also said the coincident economic index edged up by 0.1 percent in January following a 0.3 percent increase in December.

Positive contributions from employees on non-farm payrolls, personal income less transfer payments and manufacturing and trade sales led to the uptick by the index.

The lagging economic index also rose by 0.3 percent in January after climbing by 0.5 percent in the previous month.

The increase reflected positive contributions from four of the seven components, including the average duration of unemployment and the average prime rate charged by banks.

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Feb 19 at 23:24 UTC