U.S. Leading Index Signals Stronger Economy

Conference board study shows confidence is bulding slowly

A forward-looking economic index rose for a third consecutive month in June, a business research group said on July 20 in another sign the brutal recession is near an end. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators, a measure of economic conditions in the coming months, climbed 0.7% in June after a 1.3% increase in May and a 1% rise in April.

"The recession has been losing steam since the spring, although very large job losses continue," said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. "Nevertheless, confidence is slowly rebuilding. Financial markets are less volatile. Even the housing market is stabilizing. If these trends continue, expect a slow recovery this autumn."

Other indexes in the survey remained weak. The coincident index of current activity fell 0.2% in June, following a 0.3% decline in May. The lagging index slumped 0.7% in June, following a 0.4% decline in May.

The index was driven by positive views on interest rate spreads, building permits, stock prices, weekly unemployment claims, average weekly manufacturing hours and orders for consumer goods and materials.

The business research firm said that the behavior of the composite indexes suggests "that the recession will continue to ease and that the economy may begin to recover in the near term."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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