Leading indicators beat expectations, post third straight month of gains in January

Key Points
  • A composite measure of leading economic indicators was expected to rise in January.
  • The index measures 10 key metrics, such as stock prices, unemployment insurance claims and building permits.
  • It would be the 12th time the measure increased in the last 13 months.
A shopper makes a purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside, Illinois.
Kamil Krzaczynski | Reuters

A key index tracking 10 economic metrics rose for the third straight month in January.

The composite indicator increased 1 percent in January from the prior month, besting expectations of 0.7 percent from a survey of Reuters economists. The monthly gain in December was 0.6 percent, which also surpassed economists' expectations.

The organization tracking the Leading Economic Index previously announced that the passage of federal tax reform legislation in December will "provide even more tailwind to the current expansion."

A gain in January would mark the 12th month of growth out of the past 13 for the indicator. The most recent decline was in October, which saw a fall of 0.2 percent from the month before.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators is used to forecast global economic trends and take a pulse on the U.S. economy. The Conference Board, a business research association, determines a composite value based on 10 key metrics, including manufacturers' new orders, stock prices and average weekly unemployment claims, to create the composite value.