The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of economic conditions, fell 0.2 percent in August, the Conference Board reported today. The leading index now stands at 137.6 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.1 percent in July and increased 1.1 percent in June. During the six-month span through August, the leading index increased 0.4 percent, with five out of 10 components advancing. The leading index decreased slightly in August, its second consecutive fall. As actual and revised data for the manufacturing new orders components became available, July's slight increase was revised down to a small decrease and there were small downward revisions to the previous months. In August, the main negative contributor to the leading index was the index of consumer expectations. The strengths and weaknesses in the leading indicators have been somewhat balanced but much of the strength in the leading index in recent months comes from the interest-rate spread. (The economic effect...
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