NEW YORK - The composite index of Leading Economic Indicators grew 0.3% in May following an unrevised 0.1% dip in April, the Conference Board reported Thursday.
The coincident index grew 0.2% in May after an unrevised 0.2% gain in April, while the lagging index rose 0.3% after an upwardly revised 0.6% climb in April, originally reported as a 0.5% increase.
The LEI stands at 95.8, the coincident index is at 104.3 and the lagging index is at 115.2 The LEI has a baseline of 100, which reflects the level in 2004.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted LEI would be up 0.1% in the month.
“Economic data in general reflect a U.S. economy that is growing modestly, neither losing nor gaining momentum,” said the Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. “The result is more of a muddle through. Continued headwinds, both domestic and foreign, make further strengthening of the economy difficult.”
“The LEI rose in May, reversing the slight decline in April,” said the Conference Board Economist Ataman Ozyildirim. “Weakness in the average workweek in manufacturing, stock prices and consumer expectations kept the LEI from rising further. Its six-month growth rate remains in expansionary territory and well above its growth at the end of 2011, pointing to a relatively low risk of a downturn in the second half of 2012.”
Seven of the 10 indicators that comprise the LEI rose in May: building permits, interest rate spread, ISM new orders index, manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), Leading Credit Index (inverted), and manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials. Average weekly manufacturing hours, stock prices and average consumer expectations for business conditions were negative.
The coincident index saw manufacturing and trade sales, personal income less transfer payments, and employees on nonagricultural payrolls, rose in the month. Industrial production was negative.
The lagging index saw positives from commercial and industrial loans outstanding, change in index of labor cost per unit of output, manufacturing, ratio of manufacturing and trade inventories to sales, and ratio of consumer installment credit outstanding to personal income. Average duration of unemployment (inverted), and change in CPI for services were negative. The average prime rate charged by banks was flat in the month.