Signs Point To Slow Economic Growth

Industrial production helped the coincident index, but housing permits hurt the leading index, the Conference Board said in its U.S. Business Cycle Indicators.

NEW YORK - The Conference Board on Thursday reported that the U.S. leading index was down 0.5 percent to 137.3, brought down in part by the negative contribution from housing permits and manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods.

The leading index is 0.7 percent below its year-ago level. It was relatively flat for July through November 2006, with a slight increase in December. During the same period, GDP grew at an estimated rate of 1.3 percent for the first quarter of 2007, down from 2.5 percent for the end of 2006.

The changes in the composite indexes suggest slow near-term economic growth, according to the Conference Board.

The coincident index was up 0.2 percent to 123.8 in April. The largest boost to the index was from industrial production, followed by personal income. In 2006, the index experienced a 2.5 growth rate last year, but eased to a 1.5-2 percent rate for the first four months of 2007. 

At 128.1, the lagging index was also up 0.2 percent in April. The index was bolstered by a change in Consumer Price Index for services and average duration of unemployment.

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