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US leading indicator points to moderate growth

[WASHINGTON] A gauge of future US economic activity rose marginally in January, suggesting a moderation in growth early in the first quarter.

The Conference Board said on Thursday that its Leading Economic Index increased 0.2 per cent last month after a downwardly revised 0.4 per cent advance in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index gaining 0.3 per cent after December's previously reported 0.5 per cent rise.

"While the LEI suggests a positive short-term outlook in 2015, the lack of strong momentum in residential construction, along with a weak outlook for new orders in manufacturing, poses a downside risk for the US economy," said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at The Conference Board.