NEW YORK CITY -- The Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators in the United States rose 0.1% in March, after no change in February. Analysts had forecast a 0.3% gain.

“The recovery in the leading index suggests the economy is poised for growth through late summer,” said Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein. “Normally, there is a strong spurt of growth after a recession as the economy catches up. But since the latest recession was short and shallow, it will not provide the thrust delivered by earlier recessions.”

The consumer sector, representing two-thirds of economic activity, is being sustained by recent income gains and improved confidence, Goldstein added. “In addition to a weak investment sector, higher energy prices, the strong dollar, and lack of global growth are holding down export opportunities,” he explained.

The leading index now stands at 112.3 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index held steady in February and increased 0.6% in January. During the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 2.9%, with all 10 components advancing.