The numbers: A survey of economic conditions in the U.S. was flat in May, suggesting somewhat slower growth in the months ahead.
The leading economic index had risen three months in a row before freezing up last month. Hiring slowed and U.S. trade talks with China broke down in May, triggered a temporary pullback in stock prices.
“While the economic expansion is now entering its 11th year, the longest in U.S. history, the LEI clearly points to a moderation in growth toward 2% by year end,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of economic research at the privately run Conference Board, publisher of the report.
What happened: Strong consumer confidence and low interest rates offset declining stock prices and slower growth in the manufacturing sector to leave the leading index unchanged in May.
Big picture: The U.S. economy has cooled off after a strong spurt of growth in 2018 and it doesn’t look like growth is going to accelerate anytime soon. The Federal Reserve is worried enough that it might cut interest rates in the near future.
A strong and resilient labor market, however, is likely to lend a hand to the longest expansion on record. Low unemployment and rising wages have boosted incomes for American households and enabled them to spend enough money to keep the economy churning.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
rose sharply in Thursday trades and closed in on record highs. Investors increasingly believe the Fed will trim interest rates in the near future.
The 10-year Treasury yield
was little changed at 2.11%.