The Conference Board Leading Economic Index increased 0.8% in February to 113.4 (2004=100), following a 0.1% increase in January and a 1.0% increase in December. The index is now at an all-time historical high and 16% higher than its most recent trough in March 2009.

“With February’s large gain, the U.S. Leading Economic Index returned to the strengthening trend that began last September,” said Ataman Ozyil, an economist with The Conference Board. “The LEI is pointing to an economic expansion that should gain more momentum in the coming months. In February, improvements in labor markets, financial components and consumer expectations more than offset falling housing permits.”

Ken Goldstein, also an economist with The Conference Board, added that the economy should continue to gain strength through the summer, but the sharp rise in food and energy prices and the threat of inflation are wild cards that will cause “headwinds.”

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