New York-based Conference Board said today that the Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell by 0.4% in February, after a revised 0.2% rise in January, and a 0.2% rise in December.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said nervousness over oil prices, war and the potential of a terror attack, combined with bad winter weather, helped produce a decline after a four-month positive trend.

The private research group added that there are also signs that consumer spending could be slowing.

"This is significant because, without more investment or export growth, consumption has been largely fueling the economy since the end of the recession," Goldsteain said. "But nervousness over world events, more than any other single factor, holds the potential for extending the soft spot that the economy has been in since late last year."

The Conference Board said that the Coincident Index held steady in February, after a 0.2% increase in January and no change in December. The lagging index fell by 0.1% in February, after an upwardly revised 0.1% increase in January, and a 0.2% decrease in December.