Mon, May 20, 2024

Simon Says: What’s leading to the current LEI?

The Augusta Leading Economic Index (LEI) fell 0.1 percent in February from January. It remains 0.2 percent higher than February 2023.

The components that contributed positively to growth were initial claims for unemployment insurance, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and job openings. Residential housing permits and higher inflation negatively impacted the index.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 69 percent in February from January. While claims normally fall in February, this percentage decline is the largest post-Covid. This bodes well for continuing low unemployment in the area.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had a strong first quarter, up 5.6 percent since the turn of the year. This represents future business strength in terms of discounted future profits, as job openings increased 1.7 percent. Georgia saw an increase in job openings while South Carolina saw a decline.

Residential housing permits fell 4.5 percent from January, while inflation in the South hit 3.7 percent, the highest since September 2023. The continued strength of the labor market along with inflation remaining stubbornly above the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2 percent increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates higher for longer than expected six months ago.

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