A key gauge of future U.S. economic activity posted a third successive increase in September, but at a pace so modest that it implied only lackluster growth ahead.
The independent Conference Board said on Thursday its Leading Economic Index rose 0.3 percent last month after a revised 0.1 percent gain in August and a 0.2 percent increase in July.
Five of the 10 separate measures of activity that are gauged by the index strengthened in September, led by a narrower interest-rate spread and lower unemployment insurance claims. But others, including building permit issuance and consumer confidence, weakened from August levels.
"More than a year after the recession ended, the economy is slow and has no forward momentum," said Ken Goldstein, a Conference Board economist. "The leading index suggests little change in economic conditions through the holidays or the early months of 2011."