Leading economic index up more than expected in February

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The composite of the Leading Economic Index was up 0.6% in February following a downwardly revised 0.8% increase in January, the Conference Board said Thursday.

The coincident index gained 0.3% in February after an unrevised 0.1% rise in January, while the lagging index grew 0.4% in February, after a 0.1% increase in January.

The LEI stands at 108.7, the coincident index is at 103.3 and the lagging index is at 104.3 The LEI has a baseline of 100, which reflects the level in 2016.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted LEI would be up 0.4% in the month.

“The U.S. LEI rose again, despite a sharp downturn in stock markets and weakness in housing construction in February,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The LEI points to robust economic growth throughout 2018. Its six-month growth rate has not been this high since the first quarter of 2011. While the Federal Reserve is on track to continue raising its benchmark rate for the rest of the year, the recent weakness in residential construction and stock prices — important leading indicators — should be monitored closely.”

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