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Is the United States Primed for Economic Growth?

An index measuring leading economic indicators in the United States posted its third straight increase in April, suggesting economic growth might be ready to take off in the coming months following a weak first quarter.

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index, a gauge of the near-term economic outlook, increased 0.4 percent last month to a reading of 101.4. The index measures progress made across 10 different economic components, including average weekly unemployment claims, consumer expectations for business conditions, and building permits for new private housing, among others.

Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the Conference Board, said April's improvement was "driven largely by improving housing and financial market conditions," adding, "This latest report suggests the economy will continue to expand, and may even pick up steam through the second half of the year."

At the same time, the Conference Board's Coincident and Lagging Economic index, which measures current economic activity, increased 0.1 percent to 108.5, while the Lagging Economic Index inched up 0.2 percent to 123.3.

"Despite a brutal winter which brought the economy to a halt, the overall trend in the leading economic index has remained positive," said economist Ken Goldstein. "If consumers continue to spend, and businesses pick up the pace of investment, the industrial core of the economy will benefit and GDP growth could move closer towards the 3 percent range."


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