The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI), a measure of economic growth expectations for the coming months, increased 0.9 percent in October to a reading of 105.2, the group reported Thursday. The spike follows a 0.7 percent increase in September and a flat reading in August.
Experts surveyed by Econoday forecast a gain of 0.5 percent for the month.
"Despite a negative contribution from stock prices in October, and minimal contributions from new orders for consumer goods and average workweek manufacturing, the LEI suggests the U.S. expansion continues to be strong," said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the Conference Board.
The continuing improvement comes as consumers express a more optimistic outlook for the economy and their own finances. Last week, the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters preliminary reading of consumer sentiment hit its highest level in more than seven years, spurred by improving labor conditions and cheaper gasoline prices.
Part of the headline increase came from an improvement in one of the index's housing-related components: Permits for new building were at an adjusted annual rate of 1.08 million in October, according to the Commerce Department, a six-year high.
The Conference Board's other indicators for the month were mixed. The group reported a 0.1 percent uptick in its Coincident Economic Index, suggesting ongoing growth is weak, while the Lagging Economic Index declined 0.1 percent—indicating a belief that reports of previous economic growth may not come out as strong in revised estimates.