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Leading indicators up modestly in February

Employee organizes treated lumber at Maze Lumber in Peru, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employee organizes treated lumber at Maze Lumber in Peru, Illinois.

An indicator of U.S. economic activity inched higher again in February, matching analyst exceptions and continuing a trend of positive gains over the last three months. The gain is also consistent with a moderation in the pace of growth in the first quarter.

The Conference Board said Thursday its Leading Economic Index rose 0.2 percent to 111.9 in February following a 0.2 percent increase in January, and a 0.3 percent increase in December. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast the leading economic index to increase by 0.2 percent in February.

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"Widespread gains among the leading indicators continue to point to short-term growth," said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board, in the press release.

"However, easing in the LEI's six-month change suggests that we may be entering a period of more moderate expansion. With the February increase, the LEI remains in growth territory, but weakness in the industrial sector and business investment is holding economic growth back, despite improvements in labor markets and consumer confidence."

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—Reuters contributed to this story.