The Conference Board today announced that the U.S. leading index increased 0.1 percent in April from the previous month.

The leading index now stands at 115.9 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.8 percent in March and remained unchanged in February. During the six-month span through April, the leading index increased 1.8 percent, with nine out of 10 components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 90 percent).

The leading index increased only slightly in April, but it is still rising at an average annual rate of 3.5 to 4 percent.

The pickup in the growth rate of the leading index last year signaled stronger economic growth, and correspondingly, real GDP increased at a 5.5 percent annual rate over the last three quarters. The current 3.5 to 4 percent growth rate of the leading index is signaling the continuation of this relatively strong rate of economic growth in the near term.

Four of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increased in April. The positive contributors – beginning with the largest positive contributor – were interest rate spread, real money supply, building permits and stock prices. The negative contributors – beginning with the largest negative contributor – were average weekly manufacturing hours, manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials, vendor performance, index of consumer expectations, manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods, and average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance.

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