By: Glenn Wilkins - Friday, February 17, 2017 U.S. January Indicators Beat Expectations Advertisment The U.S. Conference Board released a report Friday showing a bigger-than-expected increase by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of January. The board's leading economic index climbed by 0.6% in January after rising by 0.5% in December. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.4%. The increase reflected positive contributions from eight of the 10 indicators that make up the index. The interest rate spread, building permits, average weekly initial jobless claims and the Institute for Supply Management's new orders index were among the largest positive contributors. The board also said the only negative contributor was manufacturers' new orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, while average weekly manufacturing hours held steady.