U.S. Leading Economic Index Rose 0.1%

Wall Street expected a much higher increase.

The Conference Board said on Feb. 21 its index of leading economic indicators, a gauge of activity in the coming six to nine months, rose 0.1%. That was half the figure anticipated by Wall Street economists.

But the private-sector research group also revised up the December figure to 0.6%, double its initial estimate, following better readings for new industrial orders and building permits.

"The economy grew moderately in the second half of 2006," Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. "Despite the hike in energy prices and the slump in housing, the economy remains resilient -- especially consumer demand. The resiliency is still evidenced in the first quarter of 2007," he said.

"And the latest data for the leading economic index points to a continuation in the second quarter, or even a little more growth," Goldstein added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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