Jan. leading economic index unexpectedly slips

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The composite of the Leading Economic Index was off 0.1% in January following a revised flat reading in December, the Conference Board said Thursday.

The coincident index rose 0.1% in January after a 0.2% rise in December, while the lagging index grew 0.5% in January, after a 0.3% increase in December.

The LEI stands at 111.3, the coincident index is at 105.5 and the lagging index is at 106.7. The LEI has a baseline of 100, which reflects the level in 2016.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted LEI would be up 0.1% in the month.

“Based on preliminary data, the US LEI declined very slightly in January and December’s decline was revised up to no change,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “In January, the strengths in the financial components were offset by the weaknesses in the labor market components. The US LEI has now been flat essentially since October 2018. The Conference Board forecasts that US GDP growth will likely decelerate to about 2 percent by the end of 2019.”

As a result of the government shutdown, The Conference Board said it estimated data that weren’t published, and it delayed its annual benchmark revision until the data are released.

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