WASHINGTON — The government's main barometer of economic activity nosed upward by 0.6% in August for its seventh straight monthly gain, prompting predictions of further modest growth in the economy, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
The index of leading indicators had climbed by a revised 0.3% in July and 0.1% in June. The strength was concentrated almost entirely in two areas: rising stock prices and dropping claims for unemployment insurance.
"Ten of the last 12 months have shown an increase in the index. The trend would suggest the economy is in good shape at least through the first part of next year," said David Wyss, chief financial economist for Data Resources in Lexington, Mass.
Two other analysts agreed but added cautionary notes.
Stock Market Hiccuping
"The overall message is that the economy is advancing modestly," economist Martin Mauro of Merrill Lynch said, "but there are signs of slower consumer spending ahead. Also, housing construction looks to be either flat or down."