The Leading Economic Index decreased 0.2% in September—the first time the index declined in 12 months—bringing the index to a reading of 128.6, according to BVR's latest Economic Outlook Update (September 2017 issue). Negative contributions from initial claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and the average weekly manufacturing hours more than offset the positive contributions from ISM new orders and the financial components. In addition, the strengths of the leading indicators became somewhat less widespread. Still, the reading suggests continued solid growth for the U.S. economy through the second half of 2017.
- Total retail sales surged 1.6%, recording the largest gain in two and a half years;
- The unemployment rate improved 0.2%, reporting at a 16-year low of 4.2%;
- September marked the first month of job losses in seven years, with a decline of 33,000 jobs;
- Hourly wages climbed 12 cents, recording the largest increase in more than eight years; and
- Existing-home sales experienced their first year-over-year decline, falling 2.2% from September 2016.
Also, the S&P 500 increased for the 11th consecutive month in September, rising nearly 2.1%.
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