Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Leading Indicators Index Advances for Second Month

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Leading Indicators Index Advances for Second Month

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government's chief economic forecasting gauge inched ahead 0.2 percent in September for its second consecutive monthly advance, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, indicating continued but slow growth in the months ahead.

The increase in the Index of Leading Indicators, designed to foretell economic activity six to nine months into the future, followed an advance of 0.5 percent in August that was revised upward from a 0.3 percent gain reported earlier.

The often-volatile index was unchanged in July and had dipped 0.1 percent in June. The July figure also was revised, down from the 0.1 percent increase originally reported.

Analysts said that, while the index indicates continued but slow growth, the immediate future will be a precarious time.

``The economy looks very soft right now,'' said Bruce Steinberg, senior economist for Merrill Lynch Capital Markets in New York. The next few months ``will be a period of vulnerability,'' he added.

Four of the 11 forward-looking business statistics that make up the composite index contributed to the September gain.

The index measuring consumer expectations was the largest positive contributor last month and the major cause for the August and July revisions, the Commerce Department said.

Other positive factors were an increase in the money supply, a longer average work week and higher stock prices.

The other statistics pointed down, led by a decrease in manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods. That was followed by a decrease in manufacturers' unfilled orders; fewer orders for plants and equipment; faster vendor performance, meaning declining demand; higher initial unemployment claims; fewer building permits and lower prices for sensitive materials. indicating weakening demand.

The various changes left the index at 145.0 percent of its 1982 base of 100. So far this year, the index has fallen at an annual rate of 0. …

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