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Fri Feb 17, 2012, 12:13 PM

Index of Leading Economic Indicators in U.S. Climbs 0.4% in Expansion Sign [View all]

The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in January for a fourth month, signaling the world’s largest economy will keep expanding through the first half of 2012.

The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months climbed 0.4 percent after a revised 0.5 percent gain in December that was more than initially reported, the New York-based group said today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for an increase of 0.5 percent.

Faster hiring and a jobless rate at a three-year low may encourage more Americans to boost spending, bolstering growth at factories and helping stabilize housing. A strengthening economy means the U.S. will be able to better weather any fallout from the European debt crisis.

“The U.S. economic recovery is coming along nicely,” Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said before the report. “There are still some headwinds, but the momentum is gradually building up.”


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