Economic Indicators Better Than Expected

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 21, 2009 | Go to article overview

Economic Indicators Better Than Expected


Byline: Tali Arbel Associated Press

NEW YORK More plans to build homes, higher stock prices and fewer people filing first-time claims for jobless aid sent a private-sector forecast of U.S. economic activity higher than expected in June.

It was the third straight monthly increase for the New York-based Conference Boards index of leading economic indicators, and another sign pointing toward the recession ending later this year.

The index rose 0.7 percent last month. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a gain of 0.4 percent. Mays reading was revised up to a gain of 1.3 percent from 1.2 percent, while April was scaled back to 1 percent growth from 1.1 percent.

The group also said activity in the six-month period through June rose 2 percent, with an annual growth rate of 4.1 percent. Thats the strongest rate since the first quarter of 2006.

The index is meant to project economic activity in the next three to six months.

If these conditions continue, "expect a slow recovery this autumn," said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein.

The Conference Boards leading indicators index bottomed in March after peaking in July 2007. The decline accelerated last fall after investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed and credit markets froze. "Were now getting data which points to stabilization," said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at research firm MFR Inc. "The overall signal theyre sending is the slide in economic activity is poised to end. The jury is still very much out in terms of what happens after that."

Many analysts expect

modest economic growth in the fourth quarter after the gross domestic product posted the worst six-month performance in about 50 years at the end of 2008 and beginning of this year. …

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