There are a few signs the recession is lessening, but there also are a few figures not yet published that make it difficult to determine how long the economic downturn will continue.

This mixed bag of news came from Thomas D. Thomson, executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who said that in spite of some of the disappointing news on various aspects of the economy he is optimistic about the economic conditions for later in 1991.One of the best signs for an economic recovery in 1991 is the end to the Persian Gulf war that should boost consumers' confidence to start spending after several months of uncertainty when they were keeping their money and waiting to see what the war brought, Thomson told members of the Wasatch Front Economic Forum in the Marriott Hotel.

Another good sign is the stock market rise and the flirtation with 3,000 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Thomson said, because the market has historically signaled the beginning of the end of a recession.

He said the Federal Reserve has made money grow and the Federal Reserve Board has reduced interest rates, which has given the construction industry a boost as potential homebuyers are making inquiries about housing.

Another good sign for the economy, said Thomson, is the low level of inventories and international net exports that should increase because the Persian Gulf war is over and American companies should get a break in helping to build Kuwait, since America helped liberate that country.

On the dark side of the economy, Thomson said the credit crunch is still severe and people are worried that banks will persist in being too conservative in their lending practices. He said the credit crunch most adversely affects those who build commercial businesses.