Economic Outlook up for 8th Straight Month

A forecast of U.S. economic activity rose for the eighth straight month in November, a private research group said, signaling the economic rebound will continue next year.

The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.9 percent last month, up from 0.3 percent in October.

The latest reading beat the 0.7 percent rise that economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected.

The Conference Board said six of the 10 indicators it uses for the index increased last month.

Improvements in financial conditions, building permits for homes and the labor market boosted the index last month, said Conference Board economist Ataman Ozyildirim.

A separate measurement of the growth rate forecast over the past six months has slowed, however. In the half-year through November, the index grew at a 4.7 percent pace, down from the 5.9 percent pace in the half-year through September and the 5.2 percent pace through October.

Economists are worried about whether economic growth in 2010 will match that of the second half of this year with unemployment high, credit still tight and the effects of government stimulus programs ending.

New jobless claims rose unexpectedly to 480,000 last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday - an indication that the job market is still mired in uncertainty.

The economy grew at a 2.8 percent pace in the third quarter. Many economists say gross domestic product will grow between 3 and 4 percent for the current quarter.

The Conference Board forecasts economic activity by measuring claims for unemployment aid, stock prices, consumer expectations, building permits for private homes, the money supply and other data.