The biggest economic surge in a year and a half sent the government's index of leading economic indicators up a strong, but expected, 1.4 percent in June, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Rising stock prices, improved vendor performance, brisk orders for big ticket items, low unemployment, an increased money supply and higher prices for raw materials combined to send the index to 194, a 1.4 percent hike.That was the largest monthly increase since a 2.2 percent jump in December 1986, the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Analysts had predicted an increase of 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent.

The index is watched to predict how the economy is going to perform three to six months down the road. Because several of the 11 indicators are not available when the monthly report is first issued, it is usually extensively revised.

Only one of the nine available indicators - slower manufacturers' orders for consumer goods and materials - took away from the brisk activity in June, the bureau said.

The average workweek for U.S. employees was the same as in May.