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First Cut: January Leading Economic Index lifted by building permits and jobless claims

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index for January was up 0.8% to 112.1 after an unrevised 111.2 in December. The index was lifted by a sharp drop in jobless claims and a hefty gain for building permits — the impacts of which are likely to dissipate in the February report.

The index had gains in 8 of 10 components, one was unchanged, and one was down. The only negative was for the ongoing dearth of new orders for the ISM manufacturing index.

The composition of the positives do suggest that the period of sluggishness in the fall and early winter is starting to ease back into more consistent growth in the near future.

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