Industry News

Economy sluggish again

Housing, jobless claims impact U.S. leading index

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The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of economic conditions, fell for the second straight month in March, the Conference Board reported today. The leading index dipped 0.1 percent last month and now stands at 138.4. Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.5 percent in February and increased 0.4 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 1.9 percent, with seven out of 10 components advancing. Just five of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increased in March. The positive contributors -- beginning with the largest positive contributor -- were vendor performance, stock prices, index of consumer expectations, manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials, and interest-rate spread. The negative contributors -- beginning with the largest negative contributor -- were building permits, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods, a...