Leading Economic Indicator Edges Up, Other Data Mixed and Tepid Economic Recovery Still On Track

The slim rise in the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators was the smallest gain in 11 months. It matched expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters. In January, the index increased 0.3%.

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The leading indicators index forecasts economic activity in the next three to six months based on a variety of economic data on housing, jobs, manufacturing and financial markets, most of which has already been released.

“The indicators point to a slow recovery this summer,” said Ken Goldstein, Conference Board economist. “Without increased consumer demand, job growth will likely be minimal over the next few months.”

Meanwhile, new claims for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 in the week ended March 13 to 457,000, the Labor Department said. That’s still a little above the level that economists say is consistent with net job growth in the economy. [Read the full article]

The Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index rose 1.3 points in March to 18.9. The consensus forecast was 18. Figures above zero indicate expansion. A New York-area manufacturing gauge out Monday also showed improvement.

The Philly Fed’s new orders and shipments indexes signaled slower growth. But the jobs index hit its best level since August 2007.

Meanwhile, new claims for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 in the week ended March 13 to 457,000, the third straight decline, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s still too high to suggest sustained hiring, economists say.

Improved manufacturing activity, recent gains in retail sales and a slowly improving labor market are bolstering hopes that the economy will be able to grow on its own after government stimulus wanes in the second half of this year. But analysts say that actual job growth must resume soon for a stable expansion to take root. [Read the full article]

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