WASHINGTON A gauge of future U.S. economic activity rose marginally in October, pointing to modest growth in the near term.
The Conference Board said on Wednesday its Leading Economic Index increased 0.2 percent to 96.0 after advancing 0.5 percent in September. It was the second consecutive month of gains and was in line with economists' expectations.
"Based on the trends, the economy will continue to expand modestly through the early months of 2013," said Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board.
Goldstein said superstorm Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast at the end of October, was not yet fully reflected in the LEI data. He cautioned, however, that the storm could adversely affect consumer spending and home building in the short-term.
"In addition, the outcome of the fiscal cliff debates is another factor that could alter the outlook," said Goldstein.
The fiscal cliff refers to automatic government spending cuts and higher taxes that could suck about $600 billion from the economy early next year. Business confidence has taken a dive in recent months on fears of tighter fiscal policy.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)