The Conference Board's Index of leading economic indicators for the United States rose for the second consecutive month in December 2004, following five months of decline.
In December, the leading index increased two-tenths of a percentage point to 115.4 (1996=100). November's increase was three-tenths of a percentage point. The leading index suggests the direction of the economy for the next three to six months.
"The behavior of the leading index since the middle of 2004 is consistent with the economy continuing to expand in the near term, but more slowly than its long-term trend rate," says the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. The long-term annual growth rate of the U.S. economy is about 3.5%.