US leading economic indicators suggest recovery is improving

17 February 2012 20:36  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A key measure of US current economic conditions and near-term prospects suggests that the recovery is continuing and could pick up speed in the second and third quarters this year, the Conference Board said on Friday.

The Conference Board, a 95-year-old business analysis group in New York City, said that its leading economic index (LEI) increased by 0.4% in January, following December’s 0.5% gain and a 0.3% advance in November.

The LEI represents a cumulative measure of 11 different business and economic gauges, such as manufacturers’ new orders, residential building permits, interest rates and consumer sentiment, among others.

The January improvement was the fourth consecutive monthly advance, board economist Ataman Ozyildirim said, “and reflected fairly widespread strength among its components, pointing to somewhat more positive economic conditions in early 2012”.

“The LEI’s increase in January was led not only by improving financial and credit indicators, but also the rising average workweek in manufacturing,” he said.

“These both offset consumers’ outlook about the economy, which remained pessimistic, though slightly less so,” he added.

Ken Goldstein, also a board economist, said that recent data underlying the LEI improvement “reflect an economy that started the year on a positive note”.

He said there are “some small signs of economic strengthening in the fourth quarter that continue to point in this direction in January”.

“The LEI suggests these conditions will continue and could possibly even pick up this spring and summer,” he added.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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