The U.S. leading index decreased 0.2 percent, the coincident index increased 0.1 percent and the lagging index decreased 0.5 percent in September, the Conference Board reported last week. The leading index now stands at 113.0 (1996=100); it had increased for four consecutive months before September's decline and is still up by 2.3 percent from its recent low in March, according to the report.
While it is not likely that September's small decline indicates that the recent upward trend in the leading index has ended, a continuation of stronger economic growth would be called into doubt if the leading index does not turn upward again, according to the report.
Four of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increased in September: average weekly manufacturing hours, stock prices, manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials, and manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods. The negative contributors were real money supply, interest rate spread, vendor performance, index of consumer expectations, building permits, and average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance.