Industry News

Economic outlook brightens

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Expectations for the economy improved in July, boosted by fewer jobless claims and brighter consumer sentiment, The Conference Board reported today. The U.S. leading index, a key barometer of future economic conditions, rose 0.4 percent last month to 138.1, with six of 10 indicators advancing. Based on revised data, the leading index has now increased in three of the last six months. In July, consumer expectations, vendor performance and initial claims for unemployment insurance made large positive contributions to the leading index, offsetting the negative contributions of housing permits, manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods, and interest-rate spread. The leading index increased 0.1 percent from January to July (a 0.3 percent annual rate) Following a brief pick up at the end of 2006, the leading index has been essentially flat in the first half of 2007 and the strengths and weaknesses among the leading indicators have been balanced over this period. At the same time...