The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of economic conditions, fell for the second straight month in March, the Conference Board reported today.

The leading index dipped 0.1 percent last month and now stands at 138.4. Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.5 percent in February and increased 0.4 percent in January. During the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 1.9 percent, with seven out of 10 components advancing.

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

The growth of the leading index has slowed steadily since mid-2004 while fluctuating around a moderate upward trend. At the same time, economic activity has slowed from strong to more moderate growth through the first quarter. The current behavior of the leading index suggests economic growth should continue moderately in the near term.

Despite the weakness in the leading index in February and March, its six-month growth rate picked up to an average of 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter, up from an average growth rate of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, which was higher than its average growth of 1.8 percent in 2005.

The Conference Board is a nonprofit research and business group.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
The best event in real estate kicks off next week! Tickets are selling quickly.Register Now×
Limited time: Get 30 days of Inman Select for $5.SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription