March leading economic index up, despite drop in labor components

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The composite of the Leading Economic Index was up 0.3% in March following an upwardly revised 0.7% increase in February, first reported as a 0.6% rise, the Conference Board said Thursday.

The coincident index gained 0.2% in March after a revised 0.4% rise in February, first reported as a 0.3% gain, while the lagging index grew 0.1% in March, after a 0.3% increase in February, initially reported as a 0.4% gain.

The LEI stands at 109.0, the coincident index is at 103.4 and the lagging index is at 104.5 The LEI has a baseline of 100, which reflects the level in 2016.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted LEI would be up 0.3% in the month.

“The U.S. LEI increased in March, and while the monthly gain is slower than in previous months, its six-month growth rate increased further and points to continued solid growth in the U.S. economy for the rest of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The strengths among the components of the leading index have been very widespread over the last six months. However, labor market components made negative contributions in March and bear watching in the near future.”

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Economic indicators