Index of U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Climbs 0.7%

The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in February by the most in 11 months, signaling the world’s largest economy will strengthen, as reported by Bloomberg.

The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months increased 0.7 percent after a revised 0.2 percent gain in January that was less than initially reported, the New York-based group said today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 0.6 percent rise.

More hiring and a jobless rate that held at a three-year low last month may encourage Americans to boost their spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Strengthening demand may also drive production gains at factories, helping to sustain the expansion and allowing the U.S. to withstand higher oil costs.

“The general picture will be gradually improving,” Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington,Massachusetts, said before the report. “We’re clearly getting good signals from the labor market.”

Estimates of 49 economists in the Bloomberg survey ranged from gains of 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent.

Stocks declined after manufacturing contracted in Europe andChina. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.7 percent to 1,393.69 at 10:21 a.m. in New York.

Eight of the 10 indicators in the leading index contributed to the increase, led by fewer Americans filing first-time claims forunemployment benefits and by a surge in stock prices.

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