The composite index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2% in December, the Conference Board reported Friday.

LEI decreased an unrevised 0.4% in November.

The coincident index rose 0.1% after a revised 0.1% increase in November, originally reported as a 0.2% rise, while the lagging index was up 0.4% after an unrevised 0.2% gain in November.

The LEI stands at 136.5, the coincident index is 125.2, and the lagging index is at 130.6. Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted LEI would be down 0.1% in the month.

“The leading index declined again in December — the third consecutive decline,” according to Conference Board labor economist Ken Goldstein. “The coincident economic index (which measures where the economy is at present) has turned softer, after remaining very steady until the final months of 2007. Consumption and investment have weakened and even export growth, the remaining source of strength, has cooled. The latest data suggest that growth could remain slow, and possibly be even a little slower, in the first half of 2008.”

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