The composite index of leading economic indicators fell 0.4% in February, the Conference Board reported yesterday.

The LEI increased a revised 0.1% in January, originally reported as a 0.4% rise.

The coincident index slid 0.4% after a revised 0.6% drop in January, originally reported as a 0.5% decrease, while the lagging index fell 0.4% after a 0.3% decline in January, originally reported as a 0.1% decrease.

The LEI stands at 98.5, the coincident index is 102.5, and the lagging index is at 113.5.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the LEI would be down 0.6% in the month.

“The U.S. Leading Economic Index declined in February, but strengths and weaknesses were roughly balanced among its components,” according to board labor economist Ken Goldstein. “Financial market volatility remains strong, and the credit market freeze is relenting very slowly. The LEI suggests the recession will continue in the near term. A return to strong growth will not likely occur until 2010.”

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