U.S. leading economic indicators signal trouble on horizon


The numbers: The U.S. leading economic index fell 0.3% in February — the 11th decline in a row — continuing to signal an upcoming recession.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.4% drop.

The leading economic index, also known as the LEI, is a gauge of 10 indicators designed to show whether the economy is getting better or worse. The report is published by the nonprofit Conference Board.

Big picture: The economy has slowed due to the end of pandemic stimulus and the effects of high inflation, which has forced the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.

Higher borrowing costs typically tame inflation, but at the cost of weaker economic growth.

Although the leading index has been signaling a recession for months, the economy is still expanding. A big question is whether the latest banking crisis ends up becoming a tipping point. So far, regulators appear to have contained the damage.

Key details: Eight of the 10 indicators tracked by the Conference Board fell in February.

A measure of current economic conditions, meanwhile, rose a scant 0.1% in February.

The so-called lagging index — a look in the rearview mirror — also increased by 0.1%.

Looking ahead: “The leading economic index still points to risk of recession in the U.S. economy,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, senior manager of business cycle indicators at the board.

“The most recent financial turmoil in the U.S. banking sector is not reflected in the LEI data but could have a negative impact on the outlook if it persists,” she said.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.19% and S&P 500 SPX, -1.10% fell in Friday trading amid nagging worries about the U.S. financial system after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.

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

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