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US leading index rises, and jobless claims fall

July 20, 2017

The Conference Board’s US Leading Economic Index rose 0.6% in June to a reading of 127.8 (2010 = 100), following increases of 0.2% in both May and April.

“The US LEI rose sharply in June, pointing to continued growth in the US economy and perhaps even a moderate improvement in GDP growth in the second half of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The broad-based gain in the US LEI was led by a large contribution from housing permits, which improved after several months of weakness.”

The index comprises 10 components, including the average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Separately, the US Department of Labor today reported the US four-week moving average of initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 243,750 last week, down 2,250 from the previous week’s average, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the US Department of Labor. The previous week’s average was revised upward by 250.

The four-week moving average decreases the volatility of the weekly numbers. Total initial claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended July 15 fell to 233,000, down 15,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised upward by 1,000.

MarketWatch reports the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits sank in mid-July and hovered near a 44-year low, reflecting the healthiest job market in more than a decade.

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