The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.8% in March to 100.9 (2004 = 100), following a 0.5% increase in February, and a 0.2% increase in January.
“The LEI rose sharply again, the third consecutive monthly increase,” said Conference Board economist Ataman Ozyildirim. “After a winter pause, the leading indicators are gaining momentum and economic growth is gaining traction. While the improvements were broad-based, labor market indicators and the interest rate spread largely drove the March increase, offsetting the negative contribution from building permits. And, for the first time in many months, the consumer outlook is much less negative.”
“The March increase in the LEI suggests accelerated growth for the remainder of the spring and the summer,” said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. “The economy is rebounding from widespread inclement weather and the strengthening in the labor market is beginning to have a positive impact on growth. Overall, this is an optimistic report, but the focus will continue to be on whether improvements in the labor market can be sustained, fueling stronger economic performance over the next few months.”