The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of economic conditions, increased 0.1 percent in December, the Conference Board reported today. The leading index now stands at 138.5 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.9 percent in November and increased 1 percent in October. During the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 1 percent, with seven out of 10 components advancing. The leading index grew strongly from mid-2003 to mid-2004, but it has been fluctuating around a more moderate upward trend since mid-2004. The strengths and weaknesses among the leading indicators were balanced through mid-2005, and the strength has become somewhat more widespread in recent months. The current behavior of the leading index suggests the economy should continue exp...
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