Leading indicators rise 0.3 percent in November

Thursday, December 18th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ An important gauge of future economic activity rose a solid 0.3 percent in November, suggesting that the economic recovery will gain momentum next year.

The Conference Board reported Thursday that its Index of Leading Economic Indicators advanced to 114.2 last month following a revised increase of 0.5 percent in October to 113.9.

November's 0.3 percent increase was in line with analysts' expectations.

The index is closely watched because it forecasts movement in the economy in the next three to six months.

The U.S. economy was slow to pick up following the recession in 2001. But many analysts now believe the recovery is deepening and widening and say growth next year could exceed 4 percent.

The Conference Board's economist, Ken Goldstein, said in a statement accompanying the report that the figures ``are pointing to post-holiday strength.''

He added: ``The lone note of caution is that although the path is up, it has been bumpy and will remain so in the new year.''

The New York-based business group said six of the 10 indicators in the index contributed to November's advance. They were improvement in claims for unemployment, consumer sentiment, vendor performance, average weekly manufacturing hours, stock prices and the spread in interest rates.

The decliners were building permits, the money supply, new orders for capital goods, and new orders for consumer goods and materials.

The Index of Coincident Indicators, which gauges current economic activity, increased 0.2 percent in November to 116.3 following a revised rise of 0.3 percent in October to 116.1.

The Index of Lagging Indicators dropped 0.3 percent to 97.0 in November following a decline of 0.1 percent in October to 97.3. October's performance initially was estimated as a 0.2 percent increase.