Last updateThu, 16 May 2019 4pm


Leading Economic Indicators End Five Month Skid

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2% in February to 111.5, following no change in January, and a 0.1% decline in December.

“The U.S. LEI increased in February for the first time in five months,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of economic research at The Conference Board. “February’s improvement was driven by accommodative financial conditions and a rebound in stock prices, which more than offset weaknesses in the labor market components. Despite the latest results, the U.S. LEI’s growth rate has slowed over the past six months, suggesting that while the economy will continue to expand in the near-term, its pace of growth could decelerate by year end.”

Factory Orders Barely Rise in January

New orders for manufactured goods in January, up two consecutive months, increased $0.3 billion or 0.1% to $500.5 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports. This followed a 0.1% December increase. Shipments, down four consecutive months, decreased $1.8 billion or 0.4% to $503.1 billion. This followed a 0.2% December decrease.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in January, up three consecutive months, increased $0.9 billion or 0.3% to $255.3 billion, down from the previously published 0.4% increase. This followed a 1.3% December increase.

Small Business Optimism Stabilizes in February

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index improved modestly, increasing 0.5 points to 101.7, even with the potential negative impact of the government shutdown on government workers but also on government contractors who laid off workers as well. Two Index components fell, three were unchanged, and five improved. Views about future business conditions and the current period as a good time to expand improved as did plans to make capital outlays.

Manufacturing Production Down Second Straight Month

Industrial production edged up 0.1% in February after decreasing 0.4% in January. The index for utilities rose 3.7%, while the index for mining moved up 0.3%. At 109.7% of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 3.5% higher in February than it was a year earlier.

Manufacturing output decreased 0.4% in February after falling 0.5% in January. In February, the index stood 1.0% above its year-earlier level. The output of durables edged down. 

Durable Goods Orders Up 0.4% in January

New orders for manufactured durable goods in January increased $0.9 billion or 0.4% to $255.3 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up three consecutive months, followed a 1.3% December increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.1%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.7%.

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