U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Rise 0.2%

By John S. McClenahen The Conference Board's index of U.S. leading economic indicators increased 0.2% in December 2003, right in line with the figure economists and analysts generally had forecast. Seven of the 10 indicators that make up the index advanced in December, including manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods and manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials, the New York-based business research group reported Jan. 22. The leading index, which now stands at 114.3 (1996=100) previews the expected course of the economy for the next three to six months. "The continued growth in the leading index in recent months is signaling that strong economic growth -- in the 5% to 6% range -- should persist in the near term," says the Conference Board.

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