Leading indicators rise in December, in line with estimates

Shoppers at a Walmart in Los Angeles
Jonathan Alcorn | Reuters

A measure of future economic conditions was higher last month, amid improving attitudes about the business cycle, according to a new report.

The U.S. Leading Economic Index rose 0.5 percent in December to 124.6, The Conference Board said on Thursday, in line with the 0.5 percent increase expected by an estimate from Reuters. That's compared to a 0.1 increase in November.

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

The results suggest that the economy will grow at a moderate pace in the early months of 2017, and perhaps even "accelerate slightly," Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

"December's large gain was mainly driven by improving sentiment about the outlook and suggests the business cycle still showed strong momentum in the final months of 2016," Ozyildirim said.