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

LEI increased a revised 0.2% in December, originally reported as a 0.3% rise.

The coincident index slid 0.5% after an unrevised 0.5% drop in December, while the lagging index fell 0.1% after a 0.2% decline in December, originally reported as a 0.4% decrease.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted LEI would be flat in the month.

“The economy has been in recession for over a year, but the level of intensity may begin to ease over the next few months,” said Conference Board labor economist Ken Goldstein. “The second half of 2009 may see a period of anemic growth. In fact, a return to robust growth may not occur until well into 2010, even if the long climb starts a few months from now.”

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