Labor market woes and a weaker consumer outlook continue to put a damper on overall economic activity. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may affect your business.

Leading Indicators Improve

The index of leading economic indicators made modest gains for the second straight month, despite a weaker consumer outlook and rising jobless claims, the Conference Board reported Thursday.

Four out of ten index components improved in June, including the interest rate spread, stock prices and factory orders, the New York-based private research group said. At the same time, ongoing declines in consumer expectations, jobless claims and building permits has kept the index at record lows.

The gains in June and May follow six months of steady declines in the index, which gauges economic activity in the months ahead.

Producer Prices Up

Rising energy costs pushed wholesale prices paid by the nation's manufacturers up by 1.4 percent last month, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.

Excluding food and energy prices, which jumped by 4.9 percent in May, so-called core producer prices rose by just 0.2 percent.

Core intermediate prices paid at early stages of production rose by 2 percent, the sharpest gains in nearly 20 years, the report said.

Jobless Claims Steady

The number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 last week to 381,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Despite the declines, the four-week moving average for new claims rose by 3,250 to 375,250, the highest level since mid April.

The adjusted insured unemployment rate the previous week fell by 0.1 points to 2.3 percent, representing 3.06 million people filing for benefits.

The biggest declines in new claims last week were reported in Wisconsin, Mississippi and Alabama, while increases continued in California, Florida, and Pennsylvania.