DJ - Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index Rises Again

By Austen Hufford

A basket of leading economic indicators jumped again in January, a sign that the U.S. economy could continue growing in the first half of this year.

The Conference Board's leading economic index rose 0.6% last month, accelerating from a 0.5% clip in December and 0.2% growth in November.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected a 0.5% gain.

Comprised of 10 components, including initial claims for jobless benefits, factory orders and the S&P 500's price change, the index is intended to signal swings in the business cycle and to smooth out some of the volatility of individual indicators.

January's gain was broad-based across the indicators. Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board, said the U.S. economy may accelerate in the near term.

The board's coincident index -- designed to reflect current economic conditions and made up of four data points including nonfarm payrolls -- rose 0.1% last month after being up 0.3% in December.

The index of lagging indicators rose 0.3% in January after growing 0.5% in December.

Write to Austen Hufford at austen.hufford@wsj.com