Housing, finance sectors boosted April growth


The housing and financial sectors showed signs of life in April, according an index that measures the nation’s future economic health, a positive signal after long, cold winter.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose for the third straight month, increasing 0.4 percent in April to 101.4.

“Despite a brutal winter which brought the economy to a halt, the overall trend in the leading economic index has remained positive,” said Ken Goldstein, chief economist at The Conference Board.

“If consumers continue to spend, and businesses pick up the pace of investment, the industrial core of the economy will benefit and GDP growth could move closer towards the 3 percent range.”

That follows a 1 percent increase in March and a 0.5 percent increase in February.

“The LEI rose for the third consecutive month, driven largely by improving housing and financial market conditions,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at The Conference Board.

“This latest report suggests the economy will continue to expand, and may even pick up steam through the second half of the year."

The economy grew at only a 0.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year and quite likely contracted, according to newer estimates. 

But there is broad consensus from economists that growth will pick up pace through the rest of the year.