Economic Indicators Up in September

An index of ten leading indicators on the economy's health rose by a modest pace in September, confirming yet again that the U.S. recovery is still sluggish.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- An index of ten leading indicators on the economy's health rose by a modest pace in September, confirming yet again that the U.S. recovery is still sluggish.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index rose 0.3% in September after rising 0.1% in August, in line with consensus expectations. In June, the index unexpectedly dropped for the first time since early 2009. But for that blip, the index has been steadily on the rise, though the pace of expansion is the slowest since mid 2009.

"More than a year after the recession officially ended, the economy is slow and has no forward momentum," Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board, said. "The LEI suggests little change in economic conditions through the holidays or the early months of 2011."

Seven of the ten indicators are already known in advance -- stock prices, initial weekly unemployment claims, building permits, interest rate spread, consumer expectations, factory hours and supplier delivery times. Orders for consumer goods, capital goods and money supply are estimated by the index.

Five components contributed to the growth with building permits, consumer expectations and supplier performance weighing on index.

Separately, the

Philadelphia Federal Reserve

released its report for economic activity in October. The index of manufacturing activity in the region rose to 1 during the month from a negative 0.7 in the previous month. Consensus expected the index to rise to 1.4.

The new orders index remained negative for the fourth consecutive month, suggesting poor demand for manufactured goods. The employment index increased by an unimpressive one point. Of concern was the 22% decline in existing employee work hours, indicative of weak economic activity.

Meanwhile, businesses reported higher input prices with the prices index rising for the first time in five months. Firms continue to experience declining end product prices.

That confirms

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's observation last week that firms were unable to pass on cost pressures to consumers.

Data continues to show an anemic economic recovery, fueling hopes for more stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

-- Written by Shanthi Venkataraman in New York.

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