The economic outlook improved for the third straight month in November, but sluggishness in the employment and home construction sectors will put a drag on the future rate of growth, The Conference Board reported today.

The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of future economic conditions, edged up 0.1 percent last month to 138.2, following a 0.1 percent increase in October and a 0.4 percent gain in September.

Four of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increased in November: money supply, vendor performance, manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods, and stock prices.

A 10th straight monthly decline in building permits and a jump in the number of people filing for unemployment insurance in November made the largest negative contributions to the leading index, according to The Conference Board.

The leading index has been fluctuating around a slightly downward short-term trend since January, and, despite three consecutive gains, it is still 0.6 percent below its most recent high reached at the beginning of the year, The Conference Board reported. At the same time, real GDP growth, a measure of the total value of goods and services produced in a given period, slowed to a 2.2 percent (annual) rate in the third quarter, following a 5.6 percent gain in the first quarter and a 2.6 percent gain in the second quarter.

The Conference Board said the recent behavior of the leading index so far still suggests that slow economic growth is likely to continue in the near term.

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