The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.5% in July to 115.8, suggesting that the economy is poised for "modest" growth through the end of the year.
The data, which is culled from a variety of components including manufacturers' new orders, new unemployment claims, stock prices and consumer expectations, concludes that despite rising volatility on Wall Street and anxiety on Main Street, the economy expand -- albeit slightly -- for the next four months.
"The U.S. LEI continued to increase in July," Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at The Conference Board, said in the report. "However, with the exception of the money supply and interest rate components, other leading indicators show greater weakness -- consistent with increasing concerns about the health of the economic expansion."
The 0.5% increase in the LEI was slightly better than the 0.3% gain recorded in June, but down from the 0.7% bump for May.
"The economy is slow, with little momentum, and shows no indication of acceleration. The gains in the LEI are modest, especially the nonfinancial indicators," Ken Goldstein, an economist at The Conference Board, added. "Despite these growing risks, the economy should continue to expand at a modest pace through the fall."
The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.3% in July to 103.3. following a 0.1% increase in June, and a 0.1 percent increase in May. Three of the four coincident indicators advanced over the past six months.
Meanwhile, The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index inched up only 0.2% in July to 110.0, following a 0.4% increase in June, and a 0.4% improvement in May.
The composite economic indexes are the key elements in The Conference Board's analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. The leading, coincident, and lagging economic indexes are essentially composite averages of several individual leading, coincident, or lagging indicators.
They are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component – primarily because they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.