January 26, 2009

Leading indicator rose in December

The U.S. leading index rose modestly in December, marking its first monthly gain since June, The Conference Board, an economic research group, said Monday.

The index measuring future economic conditions rose 0.3 percent, boosted by large gains in the money supply provided by government stimulus measures.

Indexes for manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials and for non-defense capital goods also rose, the research group said.

However, six of the 10 components in the leading index came up negative in the month, indicating widespread economic distress.

Shrinking numbers of building permits issued, fewer weekly production hours at manufacturing firms, falling stock prices and rising unemployment suggest the recession, now in its 13th month, will continue in the near term, the Conference Board said.

The coincident index, measuring current conditions, fell sharply, dropping 2.2 percent, the report said.

While manufacturing and trade sales rose, industrial production and non-farm payrolls fell in December, the Conference Board said.