February Proves A Positive Month For The U.S. Economy

The U.S. economy showed signs of continued positive movement in February, registering a 0.2-percent increase in The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI). The Index rose to 110.5 in February, following a 0.5-percent increase in January and a 0.4-percent increase in December.

“The U.S. LEI continued rising in February, suggesting economic growth should continue well into this year,” says Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board. “Indeed, the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and a new round of large fiscal supports are not yet fully reflected in the LEI. With those developments, The Conference Board now expects the pace of growth to improve even further this year, with the U.S. economy expanding by 5.5 percent in 2021.”

Ozyildirim adds, “Despite widespread improvements among the leading indicators, some measures—including weekly hours in manufacturing, permits for residential housing and consumers’ outlook for business and economic conditions—showed signs of weakness. Bad weather and assorted supply-chain disruptions may have impacted these particular leading indicators in February, and the effects may prove transitory.”

The Conference Board’s composite economic indexes are designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. Its Coincident Economic Index, a measure of current economic activity, for the U.S. decreased 0.1 percent in February to 103, following a 0.2-percent increase in January and a 0.1-percent decrease in December. Its Lagging Economic Index, an indicator representing changes that come only after the economy has begun to follow a particular trend, increased 0.2 percent in February to 104.5, following a 2.3-percent decrease in January and 0.4-percent increase in December.

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