U.S. Leading Indicators, Retail Sales, And Atlanta Fed Forecast Signal Strength

"The US LEI picked up in March with labor markets, consumers' outlook, and financial conditions making the largest contributions," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board, which administers the LEI. "Despite the relatively large gain in March, the trend in the US LEI continues to moderate, suggesting that growth in the US economy is likely to decelerate toward its long term potential of about 2% by year end."

The consensus forecast of a survey of economists by Blue Chip Econometrics, last updated on April 15th, called for a first-quarter U.S. growth rate of 1.5%, but the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's GDPNow forecast, which grows more accurate in the days after the end of a quarter and just before the Commerce Department announces the official GDP figure, soared on Thursday, April 18th on retail sales. On Friday, the GDPNow forecast was unchanged, calling for a first-quarter growth rate of 2.8% — nearly double the consensus of economists. A week earlier, the GDPNow forecast called for a 2.3% growth rate in the first quarter. This makes an economic surprise a real possibility.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at 2905.03, barely budging off last week's close of 2,907.41, which was up slightly from 2,892.74 a week earlier. The fractional drop ended a strong three weekly gain.

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This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Meg Green & Associates. and is not intended as legal or investment advice.

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