WASHINGTON A gauge of future U.S. economic activity increased in September, suggesting some momentum in the economy before last month's partial shutdown of the federal government.
The Conference Board said on Wednesday that its Leading Economic Index rose 0.7 percent to 97.1 in September. It had increased by the same margin in August.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to rise 0.6 percent in September.
"The September LEI suggests the economy was expanding modestly and possibly gaining momentum before the government shutdown," said Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board.
"Beyond the immediate fallout of the shutdown, the biggest challenge is whether relatively weak consumer demand, pinned down by weak wage growth and low levels of confidence, will recover during the final stretch of 2013 and into 2014."
A fight over the budget and raising the nation's borrowing limit shut the federal government for 16 days last month.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by James Dalgleish)