Leading indicators climb 0.4% in July
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Slow growth in the U.S. economy looks set to continue, The Conference Board said Friday as it reported that its leading economic index grew 0.4% in July.
Though the climb in the index was stronger than the 0.3% forecast in a MarketWatch-compiled economist poll, it comes after downward revisions to June and May figures. The Conference Board said the index fell 0.4% in June and rose 0.3% in May, with both months a tenth of a percentage point worse than previously reported.
The leading economic index consists of 10 components that together are designed to show turning points in the economy. Seven of the ten indicators increased in July, led by weekly jobless claims and building permits, followed closely by the interest rate spread.
The biggest drag came from the new-orders component of the Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing new-orders index, with average consumer expectations for business conditions also proving a drag.
"The indications point to slow growth through the end of 2012," said Ken Goldstein, an economist at The Conference Board. "Lack of domestic demand remains a big issue. However, back-to-school sales are better than expected, suggesting that the consumer is starting to come back."
Earlier this week, the Commerce Department reported a gain in July retail sales. See story on retail sales.
Also on Friday, August consumer sentiment edged up a slight bit for August, the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters reported.