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US leading indicators index up 0.1 percent

By Martin Crutsinger

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, June 20 2013 9:52 a.m. MDT

Specialist Fabian Caceres works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, March 28, 2013. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at a record high Thursday, beating the mark it set in October 2007. The S&P rose six points to 1,569, a gain of 0.4 percent, beating its previous record by four points. The index is still shy of its all-time trading high of 1,576.

Richard Drew, Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — A measure of the U.S. economy's future health improved only slightly in May. But the modest gain followed a jump in April that suggests economic growth could pick up later this year.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators increased 0.1 percent last month to a reading of 95.2. That followed a stronger 0.8 percent rise in April.

Higher stock prices boosted the May index.

The index is intended to signal economic conditions three to six months out. It has been posting steady gains since December, one of many favorable signs for a stronger second half of the year.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said growth will depend on the strength of housing and consumers, which have helped offset government spending cuts and weak exports.

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