SLIM GROWTH: A measure of the U. S. economy's future direction edged up 0.2 percent in January, suggesting slow growth will continue in the coming months.
THE OUTLOOK: The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose to 94.1 last month after a rise of 0.5 percent in December. The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out.
REALITY VS. EXPECTATIONS: Rising stock prices, falling applications for unemployment benefits and a gain in housing permits drove the index higher. A fall in consumer expectations about the economy and declining new orders for factory goods limited the gain.