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Leading Economic Index shows improvement in February

Posted on March 24th, 2014 Read time: 1 minutes

The gauge that looks at future U.S. economic activity posted a slight increase in February, according to The Conference Board. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose 0.5 percent in February to stand at a mark of 99.8 percent. The economy looks to be improving, as January 2014 posted an increase of 0.1 percent, an improvement from December 2013's decrease of 0.1 percent.

Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board, said in a statement the index improved in February thanks to the housing industry.

"The strengths and weaknesses in the LEI were balanced in February, with large increases in housing permits and the interest rate spread more than offsetting decreases in the workweek in manufacturing, consumer expectations and rising initial claims for unemployment insurance," Ozyildirim said.

The index is used to look at different peaks and troughs among businesses in the U.S. There are several components of the index that help track business activity, including amount of new orders, stock prices and unemployment claims.

Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board, said in a statement there are a few roadblocks businesses have to avoid in order to keep up the good work.

"The biggest challenge continues to be weak consumer demand, pinned down by weak wage growth," Goldstein said. "These conditions were still in evidence the first two months of the year, but will likely improve as spring arrives."

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