Risks of a double-dip recession appear to be receding, as the most recent index of leading indicators from the Conference Board shows marked improvement in a variety of economic sectors.
Driven largely by gains in building permits, the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates, stock market activity and employment figures, the index expanded by 0.9 percent in October, well higher than the 0.7 percent projected by economists. It was also up considerably from September (0.1 percent) and August (0.3 percent). "On the whole, this report underscores the positive tone of the recent flow of economic reports pointing to a meaningful pick-up in overall economic activity during the quarter," said Millan Mulraine, an economics strategist at TD Securities. "There is every indication that the recovery is slowly moving into the clear, building on the momentum from the last quarter." October also showed improvements in retail sales, consumer credit and small business lending. However, experts agree that unemployment - currently at 9 percent - remains the chief obstacle to recovery and may continues to inhibit banks' investment and credit decisions