*NEWS*U.S. ECONOMIC EDGES HIGHER?

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*NEWS*U.S. ECONOMIC EDGES HIGHER?

 user 2004-04-19 at 11:11:00 am Views: 100
  • #5273

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    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue size=4>U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Edge Higher</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>NEW YORK (Aprl 19) – A Barometer of future economic activity edged higher in March, following a pause in February, suggesting that the economic recovery may be gaining a more solid footing.</FONT></P><!– PARAGRAPH OBJECT –><!– Type: htmlField –><!– Id: –><!– Alignment/Wrap: right/1 –>
    <DIV class=widgetright style=”TEXT-ALIGN: right”><FONT color=blue>The Conference Board, a private research group, also reported Monday that its indicator of current economic activity rose for the seventh straight month in March, indicating that economic momentum was remaining strong going into the second quarter.</FONT></DIV>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>The group’s Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.3 percent in March, following no change in February and a 0.4 percent rise in January. The report was in line with what analysts were expecting.</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>The indicator, which forecasts trends in the economy over the next three to six months, is comprised of 10 indicators of future economic activity. Six of those indicators rose last month, including real money supply, building permits and new orders for consumer goods to manufacturers.</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, said the leading index remained on an ”upward trend,” auguring well for the economy. ”Economic growth in the first quarter was strong and the second quarter may be as good or better.”</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>The upturn in the leading index in March left the indicator 4.4 percent higher than its most recent low in March of 2003, though the group noted that growth in the indicator had ”slowed somewhat in recent months.”</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>However, the Conference Board also noted that its indicator of current economic conditions, its Coincident Index, continued to advance steadily in March, and that the strength in current conditions had been solidifying in recent months and also taking a wider hold in various parts of the economy.</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>Three of the four elements of the Coincident Index were higher in March, including personal income, non-agricultural employment and manufacturing. The only lagging element was industrial production. Overall the index was up 0.2 percent.</FONT></P>
    <P class=articleText><FONT color=blue>Combined with other recent economic measurements, the report pointed to more steady growth in the economy. The Conference Board said in its report that the current rate of growth in its leading index suggested ”a continuation of relatively strong economic growth in the near term.”</FONT></P></FONT></DIV>
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    <DIV><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif color=blue style=”FONT-STYLE: italic”>U.S. factories busier than expected in March</FONT></DIV></TD></TR>
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    <TD colSpan=2><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif color=#000000 size=2><FONT color=blue size=3> The U.S. manufacturing sector grew for the 10th straight month in March, the Institute for Supply Management said Thursday, surpassing market expectations. The ISM reported that its purchasing manager’s index rose to 62.5 in March, up from 61.4 in February. </FONT>
    <P><FONT color=blue size=3>The index uses a benchmark of 50. Any number above indicates growth, while any number below is a sign of contraction. The consensus among analysts polled by Briefing.com was for the rate of growth to slow from February and the index to read 59.5. </FONT>
    <P><FONT color=blue size=3>”The manufacturing sector had another good month in March as the PMI has now been above the 60-per-cent mark for five consecutive months,” ISM chairman Norbert Ore said in the report. “Both new orders and production remain strong and have significant momentum going into the second quarter.” </FONT>
    <P><FONT color=blue size=3>Despite 10 months of growth in the manufacturing sector, employment at the nation’s factories has been weak for much of the past three years. Critics, among them Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, blame President George W. Bush’s trade policies for allowing American jobs to move overseas. The ISM reported that its employment sub-index rose to 57 in March from 56.3. That was the highest reading for the sub- index since 1987. </FONT>
    <P><FONT color=blue size=3>Today (Friday), the U.S. Labor Department will release its non-farm payrolls report for March. </FONT>
    <P><FONT color=blue size=3>Economists polled by Briefing.com expect about 123,000 new jobs to have been created across the U.S. in March, compared with a mediocre 21,000 in February. The ISM’s order backlog index rose to 63.5 in March from 62 in February. The measure of new export orders rose to 62 from 54.9. “Our survey respondents generally indicate that business is quite strong,” Ore said. </FONT>
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