January leading economic indicators rise 0.1% (by Ruth Mantell)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The economy's expansion is expected to continue in coming months, though current conditions, which are slowly improving, remain weak, the Conference Board said Thursday as it reported that its leading economic index rose 0.1% in January. "The economy gained some momentum in late fall, and the latest data suggest that trend will continue," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, in a statement. Six of the 10 indicators included in the LEI made positive contributions in January, led by the interest rate spread. The largest negative contribution came from building permits. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the overall index to rise 0.2% in January. In December, the LEI rose 0.8%, compared with the Conference Board's prior estimate of 1%. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators that are designed to signal business cycle peaks and troughs. In recent months, there have been widespread strengths among the indicators, according to the Conference Board. For the six months through January, the LEI gained 3%, up from 2.2% in the prior six months.