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US economy showing momentum as leading indicators rise for 12th straight month in September

Key Points
  • September marked the 12th straight month of gains for The Conference Board's index, which takes into account building permits, the ISM index of new orders and stock prices.
  • "The US LEI improved further in September, suggesting the US business cycle remains on a strong growth trajectory heading into 2019," says Ataman Ozyildirim, director and global chair at The Conference Board. 
  • Ozyildirim also notes economic growth could top 3.5 percent in the second half of this year, but "unless the momentum in housing, orders and stock prices accelerates, that pace is unlikely to be sustained in 2019."
A customer shops for frozen food inside a Costco Wholesale Corp. store in Miami, Florida.
Scott McIntyre | Bloomberg | Getty Images

An index made up of leading economic indicators rose for the 12th straight time September, according to data released Thursday.

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased by 0.5 percent last month, in line with what economists polled by Refinitiv expected.

The gain takes into account building permits, the ISM index of new orders and stock prices.

"The US LEI improved further in September, suggesting the US business cycle remains on a strong growth trajectory heading into 2019," said Ataman Ozyildirim, director and global chair at The Conference Board. "However, the LEI's growth has slowed somewhat in recent months, suggesting the economy may be facing capacity constraints and increasingly tight labor markets."

Ozyildirim noted economic growth could top 3.5 percent in the second half of this year, but "unless the momentum in housing, orders and stock prices accelerates, that pace is unlikely to be sustained in 2019."

The U.S. housing market has been under pressure lately as interest rates rise to multiyear highs. The Commerce Department said Wednesday housing starts fell 5.3 percent last month, more than was expected.

Equities have also fallen from record highs set in October. The and Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 4.3 percent and 3.6 percent this month, respectively.

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Real Estate

US housing starts fall more than expected in September  

Key Points
  • U.S. homebuilding dropped more than expected in September.
  • Construction activity in the South fell by the most in nearly three years, likely held down by Hurricane Florence.
  • Housing starts fell 5.3 percent to 1.201 million units last month, the Commerce Department said.
  • Data for August was revised down to show starts rising to a rate of 1.268 million units instead of the previously reported pace of 1.282 million units.