By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABERWASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A measure of the U.S. economy's future direction edged up in January from December, suggesting slow growth will continue in the coming months. The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in January to 94.1, the second straight increase after a gain of 0.5 percent in December. In November, the index was unchanged. The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out. Rising stock prices, falling applications for unemployment benefits and a gain in housing permits drove the index higher. A fall in consumer expectations about the economy and declining new orders for factory goods limited the gain. "The indicators point to an underlying economy that remains relatively sound but sluggish," Ken Goldstein, a Conference Board economist, said. "Credit use has picked up, driven in part by relatively strong demand for auto loans." Six of the 10 indicators that make up the index were positive in January. The index is derived from data that for the most part have already been reported individually. Housing is the "biggest positive factor," Goldstein said. Housing permits rose in January to their highest level since mid-2008. And sales of previously occupied homes rose to the second-highest level in three years, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The Labor Department said Thursday that unemployment claims have increased from the five-year lows they reached in January. But they remain consistent with modest improvement in the job market.
HOST // Robert Powell
Retirement Planning Event
More from Opinion
Broadcom's Earnings Beat, Guidance Overshadow Revenue Miss: 5 Key Takeaways
While Broadcom's revenue missed estimates, earnings beat with the help of buybacks and cost cuts. And the company forecast chip demand will improve after this quarter.
How Facebook Can -- and Can't -- Emulate Tencent's Wildly Popular WeChat App
Though WeChat is one of a kind, Facebook might be able to replicate some of the success Tencent's platform in areas such as web apps, ads and payments.
WageWorks Is Upgraded at Wells Fargo With Price Target Raised to $45
WageWorks rises Friday on a Wells Fargo upgrade and a price target hike.
International Women's Day: How I Went From Teenage Runaway to Technical Analyst
TheStreet's Carolyn Boroden likes analyzing Fibonacci numbers a lot better than she did working her first job at Burger King.