U.S. Leading Indicators Rebound, Up 0.9% In June

The U.S. index of leading economic indicators rebounded in June, with a stronger-than-expected 0.9% rise, the Conference Board said July 21. The increase puts the index at 137.7 in June, from an upwardly revised reading of 136.5 in May, and indicates that the U.S. economy is set to maintain the current pace of economic activity over the next few months, said Ken Goldstein, a labor economist at the Conference Board.

In June, economists were expecting a 0.5% rise in the index, which seeks to gauge activity in the coming six to nine months. The June data included a change in how the private research firm calculates the index. The Conference Board had found that its previous method of measuring the yield curve -- or the difference between short-term and long-term rates -- overstated the negative impact of a flat yield curve. The rise in June followed five straight months without an increase, raising fears of a sharp deceleration in the U.S. economy.

But based on the revised method, the leading index has increased at a 1.2% annual rate over the past six months; this is down from a peak of about 10% at the end of 2003. The Conference Board said other related indexes were higher. Its coincident index, measuring current conditions, increased 0.2% in June, following a 0.1% rise in May and a 0.3% increase in April. The lagging index rose 0.3% in June, after a 0.4% increase in May and a 0.3% increase in April.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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