Friday, November 24, 2006

Economic Growth Will Continue in 2007

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators headlined a light week of economic news, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The index inched higher in October, following an upwardly revised increase in September, to post its first consecutive monthly gains this year.

The Conference Board's gauge of how the economy will perform over the next three to six months rose 0.4 percent, more than forecast, following no change in September. Fewer initial jobless claims, improving consumer confidence, rising stock prices and a jump in building permits paced the increase.

Consumers are benefiting from the drop in fuel prices that is making their paychecks stretch further. Average weekly wages adjusted for inflation rose 3.2 percent in the year to October, the biggest gain since February 1998, the Labor Department reported last week.

Economic data showing weak housing and tepid retail sales prompted investors to raise bets late last week that the Federal Reserve will reduce interest rates next year. Interest-rate futures on Nov. 17 suggested traders see a 40 percent chance central bankers will cut their target rate for overnight loans between banks to 5 percent in March from 5.25 percent. The odds were 11 percent on Nov. 16.


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