The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators shot up by 1.1% in November, the fifth straight month of increase and a sign that the economy has begun to pick up in the post-election, end-of-year period.

The Board's Leading Economic Index stood at 112.4 at the end of November. The baseline index, established in 2004, is 100. The LEI increased 0.4% in October and 0.6% in September.

The Board's Coincident Economic Index (CEI) increased 0.1% in November to101.7 (2004=100), following a 0.2% increase in October, and a 0.1% decline in September. The Lagging Economic Index (LAG) declined 0.1% in November to108.6 (2004=100), following a flat October and a 0.6% increase in September.

"November's sharp increase in the LEI ... is an early sign that the expansion is gaining momentum and spreading," said Ataman Ozyildirim, a Conference Board economist. "Nearly all components rose in November. Continuing strength in financial indicators is now joined by gains in manufacturing and consumer expectations, but housing remains weak."

His colleague Ken Goldstein, also a Board economist, added, "The U.S.economy is showing some sparks of life in late 2010. Overall, the indicators point to a mild pickup after a slow winter. Looking further out, possible clouds on the medium term horizon include weaknesses in housing and employment."