"The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 1.0 percent in December to 112.4 (2004 = 100), following a 1.1 percent increase in November, and a 0.4 percent increase in October. Says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board: “While the LEI points to an economic expansion that is gaining further traction, its components still suggest the expansion path may be uneven. December’s gain was led by housing permits, the interest rate spread, initial claims for unemployment insurance and consumer expectations. The large increases in December and November show that, after a brief pause in the second quarter of 2010, the LEI is resuming the upward trend that began in March 2009.” Says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board: “The four-month rise suggests the economy now has some wind in its sails; however, it still faces some strong headwinds in the medium-term. Overall economic activity is likely to continue to gain momentum in 2011."