NEW YORK -- The Conference Board’s Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.3% in October, after a 0.5% decline in September and a 0.1% drop in August.

"The U.S. economy was weakening before Sept. 11," said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. "The terrorist attacks clearly caused a deeper decline in the index than would have otherwise occurred."

The Conference Board's Coincident Index is a snapshot of where the economy is right now. This Index declined 0.2% in October, after being essentially flat for two months. The Lagging Index fell 0.3% in October, after a 0.2% decline in September and a 0.3% decline in August.

Despite the small increase in the leading index, its October level is still below the levels of August and July. Persistent weakness in the housing and labor components of the leading index continued in October but most of the components of the index were up. The Conference Board also noted that building permits have been down or flat in the last five months despite falling mortgage rates.

The leading index now stands at 109.4 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index decreased 0.5% in September and decreased 0.1% in August. During the six-month span through October, the leading index increased 0.6%, with three of the 10 index components advancing.