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Leading Indicators Show Signs of Economic Stability

A monthly reading of key economic indicators showed a slight pick-up last month, with longer-term trends pointing to stable growth.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) for January increased 0.3 percent to 99.5, the group reported Thursday. The small increase follows a flat December and a 0.9 percent gain in November.

“The U.S. Leading Economic Index continues to fluctuate on a monthly basis, but the six-month average growth rate has been relatively stable in recent months, which suggests that the economy will remain resilient in the first half of 2014 and underlying economic conditions should continue to improve,” said Conference Board economist Ataman Ozyildirim.

Also released Thursday were the Conference Board Coincident Economic Index, which ticked up a slight 0.1 percent to 108.1, and the Lagging Economic Index, which moved up 0.3 percent to 121.6. Together, the three indexes represent observed changes in average weekly hours, building permits, stock prices, consumer expectations for business conditions, and more.

“The increase in the Leading Economic Index reflects an economy that is expanding moderately, although the pace is somewhat held back by persistent and severe inclement weather in most parts of the country,” said economist Ken Goldstein. “If the economy is going to move on to a faster track in 2014 compared to last year, consumer demand and especially investment will need to pick up significantly from their current trends.”

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