A key barometer of future economic conditions fell sharply in August as both jobs and stocks rattled consumers' nerves, The Conference Board reported today. The U.S. leading index dropped 0.6 percent last month to 137.8, with just one of 10 indicators -- real money supply -- advancing. Based on revised data, this index increased 0.7 percent in July and decreased 0.1 percent in June. The leading index has been alternating between monthly increases and decreases in 2007, and, as a result, it is essentially at the same level as in January 2007, The Conference Board reported. In August, the largest negative contributions to the leading index were due to consumer expectations, initial claims for unemployment insurance, and stock prices. Housing permits and interest-rate spread continued to make...
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