Industry News

Economy picks up pace

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The Conference Board on Monday announced that the U.S. leading index increased 0.3 percent in March from the previous month.   The leading index now stands at 115.3 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index remained unchanged in February and increased 0.4 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 1.8 percent, with seven out of 10 components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 70 percent).   The leading index has now increased by 4.4 percent from its most recent low in March 2003, although growth has slowed somewhat in recent months. The upturn in the leading index since March 2003 signaled stronger economic growth, and correspondingly, real GDP growth picked up to a 6.2 percent annual rate in the second half of 2003. The current growth rate of the leading index is signaling a continuation of relatively strong economic growth in the near term.   Six of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increa...