Conference Board indexes still indicate growth

Several of the economic indexes compiled by the Conference Board remained on the upswing in March, which bodes well for U.S. economic growth this year

Several of the economic indexes compiled by the Conference Board remained on the upswing in March, which bodes well for U.S. economic growth this year.

The group’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.4% in March to 114.1 (2004 = 100), following a 1% increase in February and a 0.2% increase in January. That March number puts the LEIU at an all-time high, noted Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at the Conference Board.

Additionally, the group’s Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2% in March to 102.9 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1% increase in February, and a 0.5% increase in January. However, the CEI is still about 4.3% below its level at the beginning of the recession.

“The U.S. LEI continued to increase in March, pointing to strengthening business conditions in the near term,” Ozyildirim said. “The March increase was led by the interest rate spread and housing permits components, while consumer expectations dropped. The U.S. CEI, a monthly measure of current economic conditions, also continued to rise, led by gains in industrial production and employment.”

Ken Goldstein, another economist with the Conference Board, pointed out that LEI growth continues to point to sustained U.S. economic growth through year end.

“Global disruptions, including unrest in the Middle East, rising oil prices and the Japan earthquake, may have some repercussions,” he cautioned. “However, it remains to be seen what the impact of these shocks will be on the U.S. and the broader global economy.”

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