The composite index of Leading Economic Indicators grew 0.5% in February following a revised 0.5% increase in January, first reported as a 0.2% gain, the Conference Board reported Thursday.

The coincident index grew 0.2% in February after a revised 1.0% drop in January, first reported as a 0.4% gain, while the lagging index rose 0.1% after a revised 1.6% rise in January, first reported as a 0.4% increase.

The LEI stands at 94.8, the coincident index is at 105.1 and the lagging index is at 118.0 The LEI has a baseline of 100, which reflects the level in 2004.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted LEI would be up 0.3% in the month.

"The U.S. economy is growing slowly now, and with this reading increases hope that it may pick up some momentum in the second half of the year," said the Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. "However, this latest report does not yet capture the recent effects of sequestration, which could dampen the pickup in GDP."

"This month's increase in the U.S. LEI - the third consecutive - was widespread and driven by a majority of its components," said the Conference Board Economist Ataman Ozyildirim. "Even though consumer expectations and manufacturing new orders remain weak, the economy continues to expand slowly, and may be developing some resilience against headwinds from, for example, federal spending cuts due to improving residential construction and labor market conditions. Meanwhile, the U.S. CEI posted a small gain following January's sharp drop due to a decline in personal income."

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