The composite index of leading economic indicators rose 0.4% in January following a revised 0.5% gain in December, originally reported as a 0.4% increase, the Conference Board reported Friday.

The coincident index grew 0.2% in January after an unrevised 0.3% gain in December, while the lagging index rose 0.4% after an unrevised 0.3% jump in December. The LEI stands at 94.9, the coincident index is at 103.5, and the lagging index is at 113.8. The LEI has a baseline of 100, which reflects the level in 2004.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the LEI would be up 0.5% in the month.

“Recent data reflect an economy that started the year on a positive note,” said board economist Ken Goldstein. “The CEI shows some small signs of economic strengthening in the fourth quarter and continued to point in this direction in January. The LEI suggests these conditions will continue and could possibly even pick up this spring and summer.”

“This fourth consecutive gain in the LEI reflected fairly widespread strength among its components, pointing to somewhat more positive economic conditions in early 2012,” said economist Ataman Ozyildirim. “The LEI’s increase in January was led not only by improving financial and credit indicators, but also rising average workweek in manufacturing.

“These both offset consumers’ outlook about the economy, which remained pessimistic, though slightly less so,” he said. “Meanwhile, the [coincident economic index] rose again in January as employment, income and sales data all point to improving current economic conditions despite a lock of contribution from industrial production.”

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