US leading indicators rise in October in steady, modest recovery

18 November 2010 17:53  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A key index of US economic signposts rose in October, the Conference Board said on Thursday, with other recent modest but steady gains suggesting a continuing recovery and possibly stronger improvement early in 2011.

The Conference Board, a 94-year-old business analysis group headquartered in New York City, said that its index of leading economic indicators (LEI) rose by 0.5% in October to 111.3, following a revised 0.5% advance in September.

The index had seen even narrower gains in August (0.1%) and July (0.2%) following a June decline (-2%), but October marked the fourth straight month of upward movement.

The leading indicators index combines data from 10 subsidiary business measures, such as the money supply, interest rates, new orders for consumer goods and unemployment claims, among others.

The index is measured against a baseline figure of 100 set in 2004.

Conference Board economist Ataman Ozyildirim said that the incremental but steady improvement in the LEI since July “suggests that the modest economic expansion will continue in the near term”.

“The LEI’s growth has been slowing this year,” he said, “but gains in the financial components helped its pickup in October.”

Board economist Ken Goldstein also noted that the LEI growth rate had been slow, “but the latest data on the US LEI suggest that change may be around the corner”.

“Expect modest holiday sales, driven by steep discounting,” Goldstein said, referring to the US Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in November and December that often account for a sharp increase in US consumer spending.

Goldstein said that after the November-December holiday shopping season, the US economic recovery might slow again.

“But following a post-holiday lull, the indicators are suggesting a mild pickup this spring,” he said.

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