The Conference Board Leading Economic Index rose 0.2% in September to 116.4 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3% increase in August and a 0.6% rise in July.

While the index is climbing, the increases are minimal, noted Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist with The Conference Board. “September data shows moderating growth in both the Leading Economic Index and the Coincident Economic Index,” he said. “Moreover, the CEI suggests current economic conditions have been slow, with weak gains in all four components over the past six months. The slow pace suggests a growing chance that this sluggish economy is going to be here for a while.”

Ken Goldstein, another economist with The Conference Board, added, “The LEI is pointing to soft economic conditions through the end of 2011. There is a risk that already low confidence—consumer, business and investor—could weaken further, putting downward pressure on demand and tipping the economy into depression. The probability of a downturn starting over the next few months remains at about 50%.”

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