US leading indicators index fell 0.3% in Feb

20 March 2008 17:05  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The index of US leading economic indicators fell 0.3% in February as the housing collapse and declining consumer expectations pulled the key measure lower for the fifth straight month, the Conference Board said on Thursday.


The New York City-based board, a 91-year-old business research group, takes a monthly measure of 10 leading economic indicators, including new manufacturing orders, stock prices, unemployment claims and home building permits, among others. Data from those 10 sectors is combined to make the monthly index of leading indicators.


The board said that the increase in the number of US workers seeking unemployment insurance, the continuing decline in the number of residential building permits and falling consumer expectations “made large negative contributions to the index this month”.


The bad news in those sectors more than offset positive economic developments in the money supply, lower interest rates and the number of new orders among manufacturers for non-defence capital equipment and consumer goods, the board said.


The 0.3% decline in February follows a 0.4% fall in January and a slim December drop of 0.1%.  The leading index was down 0.5% in both October and November.


The board noted that its index of leading economic indicators has been on a downtrend since the middle of last year, “and the weaknesses among its components have become very widespread in the last three months”.


“The last time the leading index worsened for five consecutive months was in early 2001,” the board said.


The leading indicators index now stands at 135, measured against the 100 baseline assigned to 1996.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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