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April 22, 2021, 10:30 a.m. EDT

U.S. leading indicator index suggests economy is gathering momentum

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Greg Robb

The index of U.S. leading economic indicators rose 1.3% in March, The Conference Board said Thursday.

All 10 components of the index were positive, suggesting economic momentum in the near term, said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board.

The firm now projects year-over-year economic growth could reach 6% in 2021, he said.

The index fell 0.1% in February, revised down from the initial estimate of a 0.2% gain.

The separate Chicago Fed National Activity index was 1.71 in March, improving from a negative 1.2 in the prior month. The 3-month moving average of the CFNAI was 0.54 in March following 0.07 in February.

The most recent pattern of the CFNAI appears to show the economy reverting to its pre-pandemic trend, said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

Earlier Thursday, the Labor Department reported weekly jobless claims fell sharply for the second straight week.

Stocks /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.66% /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.74% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.88% were lower across the board on Thursday as investors parsed a heavy round of corporate earnings.

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