NEW YORK (CNNfn) - An index of leading economic indicators meant to forecast the future progress of the U.S. economy posted its third monthly decline in July as manufacturers' orders tapered off and demand for new building permits slowed, a business research group reported Wednesday.|
The Conference Board said its monthly index of leading economic indicators declined 0.1 percent to 105.8 last month: a shade below the unchanged reading expected by economists polled by Briefing.com and the same as the revised 0.1 percent drop recorded the month before. The index also slipped 0.1 percent in May.
Five of the ten indicators that make up the leading index rose in July. Among the gainers were indexes measuring consumer expectations, stock prices and the country's money supply. Offsetting the gains were a decline in indexes measuring manufacturers' orders for consumer goods, building permits and interest rate spreads.
"The small but consistent decreases in the past three-month period certainly point to a second-half economic performance less robust than in the first half of 2000," said Ken Goldstein, the group's chief economist. "With employment and income still rising, there will be growth, but not at the pace set earlier in the year."
With the exception of a 0.1 percent increase in March, the index has remained flat or negative through the entire year, the Conference Board said.
The group's coincident index, which measures current business activity, was unchanged in July after rising 0.2 percent in June. Its lagging index, which measures such things as outstanding orders for goods and outstanding loans, fell 0.1 percent after a 0.6 percent gain the month before.
The New York-based research group uses previously reported economic statistics to compile the index.
Federal Reserve policy-makers, on a campaign to keep inflation from accelerating, are seeking to slow growth. The economy grew at a 5.3 percent pace in the second quarter, faster than the 4.8 percent rate in the first.