Leading index signals U.S. growth despite challenges

Ataman Ozyildirim

An index forecasting economic conditions in the United States continues to increase, signaling growth in the months ahead despite the war in Ukraine and other challenges.

The Conference Board reported its Leading Economic Index rose three-tenths of a percent to 119.8 in March. The index rose 1.9 percent over the past six months.

Separate measures of current and past performance also increased in March.

“This broad-based improvement signals economic growth is likely to continue through 2022 despite volatile stock prices and weakening business and consumer expectations,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at the Conference Board.

Gross domestic product, the broad measure of goods and services produced in the country, is expected to grow 3 percent on a year-over-year basis in 2022, the New York-based think tank projected. That’s slower than the 5.6 percent gain in 2021, but still above the trend before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Downside risks to the growth outlook remain, associated with intensification of supply chain disruptions and inflation linked to lingering pandemic shutdowns and the war, as well as with tightening monetary policy and persistent labor shortages,” Ozyildirim said.

In a media briefing in April, the Conference Board detailed its expectations the war in Ukraine will exert enduring economic effects across the world.

In the United States, a year-over-year decline in GDP of three-tenths of a percent to eight-tenths of a percent is estimated. Bigger declines are forecast for France, Germany, Italy and other European countries.

Inflationary pressures are expected to mount around the globe. The estimated range of year-over-year change in Consumer Price Index inflation ranges from eight-tenths of a percent to 3 percent worldwide.

The Coincident Economic Index rose four-tenths of a percent to 108.7 in March. The index increased 2.2 percent over the previous six months. The Lagging Economic Index increased six-tenths of a percent to 110.9 in March. The index has increased 2 percent over the past six months.