US leading indicators inch up but outlook is dim

17 April 2008 19:42  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The Conference Board’s index of US leading economic indicators improved marginally in March after five straight months of decline, but the board said on Thursday that underlying data suggest that economic weakness will continue.


New York City-based Conference Board, the 92-year-old non-profit business analysis group, said its composite index of ten leading economic indicators reached 102 in March, up 0.1% when compared with February.


Although razor thin, it is the first increase in the leading indicators index since September last year when the measure also inched up by 0.1%.


Index declines over the last five months have ranged from 0.3% to 0.5%.


The board said that five of the ten economic measures that make up the composite index improved in March, including the money supply, average weekly manufacturing hours and producers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials.


The negative contributors included increased unemployment claims and declines in building permits, stock prices and consumer confidence.


The slight March increase does not signal an economic turnaround, the board said.


“The current behaviour of the composite indexes suggests that economic weakness is likely to continue in the near term,” the board said.


The Conference Board data came on the same day that a key manufacturing index suggested that US industry is straining to maintain growth.

By: Joe Kamalick
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