A decline in residential building permits issued locally and statewide decreases in online help-wanted advertising, consumer confidence and stock prices all conspired to send an index of leading economic indicators downward for the Fresno-Madera metro area in July.
National University’s Leading Economic Indicators index for the region fell 0.4 percent in July to a score of 121.2, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the index’s author, Kelly Cunningham.
Cunningham, an economist with the National University System, said that while growth in the index score had slowed in recent months, this was the first time the index had fallen in more than two years.
The index is intended to forecast economic performance for the coming six to nine months, and the stock market was the biggest contributor to Fresno’s drop. Cunningham said that building permits had been the strongest component of Fresno’s activity, but added that the drop might be fallout from California’s drought and state-imposed water restrictions.
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“It bears watching to see if Fresno’s LEI index continues to fall given continuing turmoil in the stock market, impact of water restrictions, faltering consumer confidence and other weakening economic activity,” Cunningham said.