The U.S. leading index, a key indicator of economic conditions, fell sharply in October after a small increase in September.

According to the Conference Board, the leading index decreased 0.5 percent last month and now stands at 136.9, with only three of the 10 leading indicators that make up the index increasing.

Most of the leading indicators contributed negatively to the index in October, led by large declines in housing permits, initial claims for unemployment insurance and index of consumer expectations. Stock prices, real money supply and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials were the only components that contributed positively to the index this month.

Based on revised data, the index increased 0.1 percent in September and decreased 0.9 percent in August. During the six-month span through October, the leading index decreased 0.5 percent, with five out of 10 components advancing.

The coincident index, which indicates the current state of the economy, was unchanged in October for the first time in 2007 following steady increases since the beginning of the year. The index now stands at 125.1, after increasing 0.2 percent in September and 0.2 percent in August.

During the six-month period through October, the coincident index increased 0.9 percent.

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