WASHINGTON (AP) — A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health increased in June for a fifth consecutive month, supporting the view that economic growth should accelerate in the second half of this year.
The Conference Board said Friday its index of leading indicators rose 0.3 percent last month. That was slightly lower than forecast but the May increase was revised up to a 0.7 percent gain, a bit stronger than first estimated.
The economy shrank sharply in the first three months of the year, reflecting the effects of a harsh winter, but economists say a rebound began in the April-June quarter and will strengthen in the second half of this year.
Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said that stronger consumer demand driven by sustained job gains remained "the main source of improvement for the U.S. economy."
The unemployment rate fell to a nearly six-year low of 6.1 percent in June as employers added 288,000 new jobs, marking the fifth straight monthly gain above 200,000. That is the best stretch of job growth since the tech boom of the late 1990s.
A second report Friday showed that the University of Michigan's measure of consumer confidence dipped slightly in July to a preliminary reading of 81.3, down from 82.5 in June.
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