Continued Economic Growth Expected Through First Half Of 2018

In the first month of 2018, The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased one percent to 108.1, signaling the potential for ongoing growth through the first half of the year. The January increase follows a 0.6 percent increase in December and a 0.5 percent increase in November.

“The U.S. LEI accelerated further in January and continues to point to robust economic growth in the first half of 2018. While the recent stock market volatility will not be reflected in the U.S. LEI until next month, consumers’ and business’ outlook on the economy had been improving for several months and should not be greatly impacted,” says Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The leading indicators reflect an economy with widespread strengths coming from financial conditions, manufacturing, residential construction and labor markets.”

The Conference Board’s Coincident Economic Index (CEI), a measure of current economic activity, also increased in January, rising 0.1 percent to 103 following a 0.3 percent increase in December and a 0.2 percent increase in November. Its Lagging Economic Index, an indicator representing changes that come only after the economy has begun to follow a particular trend, ticked up 0.1 percent in January to 104, after an increase of 0.7 percent in December and a 0.1 percent increase in November.

The Conference Board’s indexes are composites of leading, coincident and lagging economic indicators designed to highlight peaks and troughs in the business cycle that could be obscured by volatility within individual components. The LEI is comprised of 10 indicators. These include average weekly hours, manufacturing; average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance; manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials; the Institute of Supply Management Index of New Orders; manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders; building permits, new private housing units; stock prices, 500 common stocks; the Leading Credit Index; the interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds; and average consumer expectations for business conditions.

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