U.S. economy gathers momentum in November: Conference Board

Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:12am EST

WASHINGTON, Dec 22 - A gauge of future U.S. economic activity rose more than expected in November due to a sharp pick-up in new permits to build homes, suggesting economic momentum could increase by spring, the Conference Board said.

The private firm's Leading Economic Index rose 0.5 percent in November to 118.0, following a 0.9 percent increase in October. It was the seventh straight monthly gain in the index.

"The risk of an economic downturn in the near term has receded," said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at the Conference Board, which published the index on Thursday.

Ken Goldstein, another Conference Board economist, said the index suggested the economy could pick up steam by spring.

Still, the U.S. economy faces potentially major headwinds as Europe struggles with a sovereign debt crisis and U.S. lawmakers consider whether to allow a payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits to expire.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the index to rise 0.3 percent in November.

(Washington newsroom, 1 202 898 8300)

Recommended Newsletters

Reuters U.S. Top News
A quick-fix on the day's news published with Reuters videos and award-winning news photography and delivered at your choice of one of four times during the day.
Reuters Deals Today
The latest Reuters articles on M&A, IPOs, private equity, hedge funds and regulatory updates delivered to your inbox each day.
Reuters Technology Report
Your daily briefing on the latest tech developments from around the world from Reuters expert tech correspondents.