Canada leading indicator rises 0.4 percent in March

Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:45am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's composite leading indicator rose for the ninth month in a row in March, climbing by 0.4 percent from February on widespread economic strength, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

The increase was slightly less than the 0.5 percent predicted by market operators. Statscan revised up February's month-on-month rise to 0.7 percent from 0.6 percent.

Eight of the indicator's 10 components advanced in March, when the housing index was up by 0.6 percent and the average work week grew by 0.3 percent - the sixth straight month of increases.

The only components to fall were new orders, down by 1.2 percent, and furniture and appliance sales, which dropped by 0.2 percent.

The leading indicator is used as a predictor of future economic trends. The unsmoothed index, reflecting raw data, was up by 0.2 percent.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)