Leading economic indicators rise 0.3% in May (by Ruth Mantell)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The risk of a downturn in the second half of this year is relatively low, the Conference Board said Thursday as it reported that its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3% in May. "Economic data in general reflect a U.S. economy that is growing modestly, neither losing nor gaining momentum," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, a private research group. However, he added that ongoing U.S. and international challenges are making economic strengthening "difficult." Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a May gain of 0.1%, following a decrease of 0.1% in April. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators that are designed to signal business cycle peaks and troughs. Among the 10 indicators that make up the LEI, seven made positive contributions in May, led by building permits. In the six months through May, the LEI rose 1.8%, compared with a decline of 0.1% in the prior six months.