Leading index signals continued U.S. growth

An index forecasting economic conditions in the United States has rebounded,  signaling growth through the holidays and into the new year.

Separate measures of current and past performance also increased.

The Conference Board reported its Leading Economic Index rose 1.2 percent to 130.4 in October. The gain followed a slight drop in September attributed to the effects of hurricanes.

“The U.S. LEI increased sharply in October as the impact of the hurricanes dissipated,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist with the business research and membership association.

“The growth of the LEI, coupled with widespread strengths among its components, suggests that solid growth in the U.S. economy will continue through the holiday season and into the new year,” Ozyildirim said.

The Leading Economic Index has advanced 2.9 percent over the past six months, faster than the 2.3 percent gain over the six months before that.

Gross domestic product, the broad measure of goods and services produced in the country, grew at an annual rate of 3 percent during the third quarter after growing 3.1 percent in the second quarter.

For October, nine of 10 indicators of the Leading Economic Index advanced, including building permits, consumer expectations, interest rate spread, a leading credit index,  manufacturing hours, a new orders index, new orders for consumer goods and stock prices. A decline in initial claims for unemployment insurance also bolstered the index. The only indicator to retreat was new orders for capital goods.

The Coincident Economic Index, a measure of current conditions, increased three-tenths of a point to 116.2. The index has gained 1 percent over the past six months.

For October, all four indicators of the index advanced: industrial production, nonfarm payrolls, personal income and sales.

The Lagging Economic Index, a measure of past performance, rose two-tenths of a point to 125.5. The index has increased four-tenths of a point over the past three months.

For October, four of seven indicators of the index advanced, including consumer credit, the cost of services and inventories. A decrease in the average duration of unemployment also pushed the index. Commercial and industrial financing and the cost of labor retreated. The average prime rate charged by banks remained unchanged.