The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators is rising, with the biggest increase in nearly a year occurring in February.

The index rose 0.7% in February after rising 0.2% in January and 0.5% in December.  Now at 95.5, the index is the highest it has been since June, 2008 showing the greatest gain in 11 months.  The index reflects an increase in jobs, decrease in  the unemployment rate and a decline in first-time unemployment benefits.  According to the Labor Department, the current unemployment rate is at a three-year low and first-time claims for jobless benefits are at a four-year low.    

On the housing side of critical factors, building permits are up.  In addition, the stock market is also showing positive signs.  The Dow Jones industrial average rose above 13,000 late during February reaching its highest level since the financial crises.  And importantly, consumer spending is also up.

The Conference Board index indicates the expected condition of the economy  three to six months into the future.  We are optimistic about the recovery during 2012!