Washington — The government's index of leading economic indicators, turned downward in May , the third and largest retreat this year. The index dropped 1.8 percent from April, which was revised to show a 0.4 percent increase.
Nine of the 10 indicators available for May contributed to the decline: layoff rate, new orders, pace of deliveries, contracts and orders for plants and equipment, building permits, stock prices, liquid assets, money supply adjusted for inflation, and a four-month average of crude materials and raw goods. Only the length of the average workweek improved.
The index is designed to forecast trends in economic activity and likely economic p erformance.