U.S. index of leading economic indicators drops 0.3% in January


The numbers:  The U.S. leading economic index fell 0.3% in January owing to a surge in omicron cases, high inflation and persistent supply-chain disruptions.

The decline in the index was the first since last spring. Wall Street had expected a small increase.

The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys.

Key details: A measure of current economic conditions rose 0.2% in January, the Conference Board said Friday. The privately run company is the publisher of the report.

The so-called lagging index — a look of sorts in the rearview mirror — also rose by 0.2%.

Big picture: The U.S. economy is trying to shrug off the ill effects at the start of the year from a now fast-fading omicron virus. There are signs growth is reaccelerating a bit.

Yet the Federal Reserve is preparing to raise interest rates to try to squelch the worst bout of U.S. inflation in 40 years and that could add fresh headwinds on the economy in the months ahead.

Supply-chain bottlenecks that have contributed to rising prices aren’t going away quickly, either.

Looking ahead: “Despite this month’s decline … widespread strengths among the leading indicators still point to continued, albeit slower, economic growth into the spring,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at the board.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.68% and S&P 500   SPX, -0.72% rose in early Friday trades.

Stocks have tumbled in the past week on worries over a potential Russian attack on Ukraine and high inflation readings that are pressuring the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.

This article was originally published by Marketwatch.com. Read the original article here.

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