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Measure of future growth up 0.5 pct. in December

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 11:59 am •  Published: January 24, 2013
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of the U.S. economy designed to signal future activity increased in December from November, suggesting growth may strengthen in early 2013.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.5 percent in December, the best showing since September. In November, the index was unchanged.

The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out.

A decline in applications for unemployment benefits, gains on Wall Street and increases in applications for building permits drove the index higher in December.

Conference Board economist Kenneth Goldstein said the rebound in the leading index suggested an improving outlook in contrast to a few months ago when the expectations were not so optimistic.

"Housing, which has long been a drag, has turned into a positive for growth, and will help improve consumer balance sheets and strengthen consumption," Goldstein said. "However, for growth to gain more traction we also need to see better performance on new orders and an acceleration in capital spending."

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