The Conference Board Leading Economic Index rose 0.5% to 93.9 for December, according to a Conference Board report [link opens in PDF] released today. After October's 0.3% bump and November's flatline, this newest report points to a slow but positive upward trend. The news beat market analyst estimates of a 0.4% increase for December.
In a statement released today, Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein stated, "The latest data suggest that a pickup in domestic growth is now more likely, compared to a few months ago. Housing, which has long been a drag, has turned into a positive for growth, and will help improve consumer balance sheets and strengthen consumption. However, for growth to gain more traction we also need to see better performance on new orders and an acceleration in capital spending." The Conference Board also noted the positive impact on the index of an improvement in initial jobless claims.
The Board's Index attempts to reveal turning points in the American economy, smoothing out the ups and downs of individual economic indicators. The index uses 2004 as a benchmark 100 score, and moved as high as 108 in 2006 and as low as 78 in 2009.