Another Month, Another Rise In The Conference Board’s Leading Indicator

The economy is poised to continue growing for the foreseeable future, according to the January update of the Conference Board’s leading indicator index. “This fourth consecutive gain in the LEI reflected fairly widespread strength among its components, pointing to somewhat more positive economic conditions in early 2012,” says Conference Board economist Ataman Ozyildirim in a press release.

There’s no shortage of economists who agree. For instance: “There is some pretty good momentum in the economy,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase, tells Bloomberg.

The rise in the Conference Board’s leading indicator coincides with the recent improvement in the U.S. Weekly Leading Index published by the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI). As Doug Short wrote after ECRI updated its index this morning: “This is the fifth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for [ECRI’s] Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 26th of last year.”
If the revival in leading indicators has convinced ECRI to repeal its recession forecast from last September, the firm hasn’t publicly announced a retraction. But if the economic numbers continue to improve–and it’s getting harder to ignore the trend–ECRI and a handful of other analysts expecting a recession will be under increasing pressure to revise their dark predictions. Then again, ECRI’s homepage continues to feature a Bloomberg TV interview from December, when the firm’s Lakshman Achuthan confidently renewed his call that a recession was near. The not-so-subtle message: ECRI’s prediction of economic trouble ahead is still in force.