The Conference Board Leading Economic Index gained 0.8 percent in February, a sign that the U.S. economy continues to strengthen. The February gain follows a 0.1 percent increase in January and a 1.0 percent increase in December.
“Latest data point to an improving economy, one that will continue to gain strength through the summer,” said Ken Goldstien, an economist at The Conference Board, which bases its benchmark index on ten factors, including jobless claims, manufacturers’ new orders, home building permits, and consumer expectations.
The February gain was fueled by stronger job and financial markets, and an increase in consumer confidence. The positive factors more than offset a dip in housing permits, said Ataman Ozyildirim, a Conference Board economist.
The economy is strengthening, but does not face smooth sailing. Headwinds working against growth include a sharp increase in food and energy prices, Goldstien said.