Jan leading indicator climbs unexpectedly

Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:41pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's composite leading indicator unexpectedly climbed 0.2 percent in January after coming in flat in December, as strong household spending offset a downturn in the stock market, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast, on average, no change in the index. Statscan revised the December change in the index to flat from a decline of 0.1 percent previously.

A rebound in consumer spending in the new year largely explained the climb.

After snow storms caused the housing index to tumble in December, housing starts returned to normal in January. Sales of furniture and household appliances, a reflection of that upturn, gained 1.1 percent, the biggest jump since July 2006.

The stock market fell in January, however, and the outlook for manufacturing remained mixed, Statscan said.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Renato Andrade)