WASHINGTON (4/22/14)--The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI), which broadly gauges the economic outlook for the next three to six months, jumped 0.8% in March, exceeding analyst expectations and building on the 0.5% upward movement seen in February (Economy.com April 21).
Financial components--such as the interest-rate spread and credit index--and average weekly manufacturing hours led the gains. Lower consumer expectations and weaker building permit numbers held the index back from an even stronger showing.
Six out of the 10 components rose, according to Moody's.
"The LEI rose sharply again, the third consecutive monthly increase," said Ataman Ozyildrim, economist, The Conference Board (PR Newswire April 21). "After a winter pause, the leading indicators are gaining momentum and economic growth is gaining traction ... For the first time in many months, the consumer outlook is much less negative."
The improved LEI also suggests accelerated growth for the remainder of the spring and the summer, added Ken Goldstein, economist with The Conference Board.
Further, the coincident indicator, which tracks nonfarm payrolls, industrial production, personal income and trade sales, climbed 0.2%, after a 0.4% increase in February.
"The economy is picking up momentum after a slow start and a weak first quarter," Stuart Hoffman, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. chief economist, told Bloomberg (April 21). "There's definitely more going up then down."