Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index Rises Again in March

By Austen Hufford Features Dow Jones Newswires

A basket of leading economic indicators rose for the third consecutive month in March.

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The Conference Board's leading economic index rose 0.4%, to 126.7, last month, after increasing 0.5% in February and 0.6% in January.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected a 0.3% gain.

Comprised of 10 components, including initial claims for jobless benefits, factory orders and the S&P 500's price change, the index is intended to signal swings in the business cycle and to smooth out some of the volatility of individual indicators.

Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board, said the U.S. economy may accelerate if consumer spending and investment pick up. New orders in manufacturing and the interest rate spread more than offset declines in labor market components in March, he said.

The board's coincident index -- designed to reflect current economic conditions and made up of four data points including nonfarm payrolls -- rose 0.2% last month after rising by the same amount in February.

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The index of lagging indicators was unchanged in the month.

Write to Austen Hufford at austen.hufford@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 20, 2017 10:59 ET (14:59 GMT)