Leading indicators tick higher in March

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A measure of future economic conditions was slightly higher last month as stock markets and manufacturing steadied, according to a new report.

The Leading Economic Index rose 0.2 percent in March to 123.4, The Conference Board said Thursday. Analysts expected the Leading Economic Index to rise 0.4 percent in March after a 0.1 percent decline in February, and a 0.2 percent decline in January.

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The LEI, a closely followed barometer of economic health, has 10 components including manufacturer' new orders, stock prices, and average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance.

"Rebounding stock prices were offset by a decline in housing permits, but nonetheless there were widespread gains among the leading indicators," said Ataman Ozyildirim, a research director at The Conference Board. "Financial conditions, as well as expected improvements in manufacturing, should support a modest growth environment in 2016."

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