The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. rose 1% in December to 112.4, following a 1.1% gain in November and a 0.4% rise in October.

The Conference Board called the gain sizeable and said it points to encouraging news for the economy.

“December’s gain was led by housing permits, the interest rate spread, initial claims for unemployment insurance and consumer expectations,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist with The Conference Board. “The large increases in December and November show that, after a brief pause in the second quarter of 2010, the LEI is resuming the upward trend that began in March 2009.”

Ken Goldstein, another economist with the organization, said gains over the past four months show “the economy has some wind in its sails. Overall economic activity is likely to continue to gain momentum in 2011.”