Leading Economic Index no longer signals U.S. recession -Conference Board

By Thomson Reuters Feb 20, 2024 | 9:47 AM

(Reuters) – The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index no longer signals a coming recession for the U.S. economy for the first time since the summer of 2022 even as the index declined in January for the 23rd month in a row, the business research group said on Tuesday.

The index, meant to be a gauge of future economic activity, fell 0.4% in January to 102.7, the lowest level since April 2020 when the U.S. was in a brief recession after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns.

“While the declining LEI continues to signal headwinds to economic activity, for the first time in the past two years, six out of its 10 components were positive contributors over the past six-month period,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, senior manager, business cycle indicators at the Conference Board. “As a result, the leading index currently does not signal recession ahead.”

Growth in the second and third quarters, however, should be near zero, she said.

The Conference Board first announced in July 2022 that the index signaled a recession was coming. It had repeated that forecast with each month’s report until Tuesday’s release, which covered January, even as U.S. economic output, job creation and consumer spending all continued at above-trend levels throughout.

(Reporting By Dan Burns; Editing by Andrea Ricci)