Optimism regarding the economic outlook is quite strong, with the consensus forecast calling for 6.3% GDP growth this year, and the majority of economic data continue to surprise to the upside. Overall, we believe the data remains indicative of accelerating economic growth. The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumped 1.3% month-over-month in March (much higher than the 0.6% consensus forecast), following a 0.1% decline in February. On a year-over-year basis, the LEI was up 7.9% in March versus down 1.5% in February. This is the first time the index has been positive on a year-over-year basis since the pandemic started, as comparisons have eased. According to the Conference Board, the index suggests that economic momentum is increasing in the near-term, with widespread gains across all ten index components. Meanwhile, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) increased to +1.71 in March (well ahead of the 0.58 consensus forecast) from -1.20 in February. On a 3-month moving average basis, the CFNAI jumped to +0.54 in March from +0.07 in February, pointing to above-trend economic growth

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