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Stock prices jumpstart economy

Leading index reverses 5-month decline

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The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of economic conditions, grew 0.2 percent in November after five months of consecutive declines, The Conference Board reported today. The leading index now stands at 115.2 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.4 percent in October and decreased 0.2 percent in September. During the six-month span through November, the leading index decreased 1.1 percent, with five out of 10 components advancing. The weakness in the leading indicators in recent months has become somewhat less widespread. It is too early to conclude that the recent weakness in the leading index was only a pause in the rising trend, but to date the decline was not large enough and did not persist for long enough to signal an end to the current economic expansion. The growth rate of the leading index has slowed below its long-term trend, but not to a rate historically associated with a recession. The current behavior of the leading index is consistent with the...