U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Up Eight Straight Months

Conference Board said that the economy's strengths have remained widespread in recent months.

The forward-looking index of leading economic indicators rose in November, according to a Conference Board survey on Dec. 17, suggesting recovery from recession is gaining momentum.

The index rose 0.9%, following a 0.3% rise in October and a revised 1.2% jump in September, the business research firm said.

The November increase was stronger than the average analyst forecast of 0.7% rise in the index, which is based on data such as average weekly hours in manufacturing, initial claims for unemployment insurance, stock prices and consumer expectations.

The index, which had fallen steadily since mid-2007, has risen for eight consecutive months and is now slightly higher than its latest peak in July 2007.

"All in all, the behavior of the composite indexes suggests that the recession is bottoming out and that economic conditions will continue to improve in the near term," the Conference Board said, noting strengths had remained "widespread" in recent months.

The November increase was led by "large positive contributions" from the interest rate spread, initial jobless claims, average weekly hours and housing permits, it said.

Those gains more than offset negative readings, such as from the index of supplier deliveries and the index of consumer expectations.

The index of coincident indicators, a gauge of current economic activity, rose 0.2% in November, after the index held unchanged in October following a 0.1% drop in September.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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