RTTNews - A research firm known as the Conference Board said Thursday its index of leading economic indicators rose 1.0 percent in April, indicating signs of improvement in the general economy a few months down the line.

The Conference Board's coincident index dipped 0.2 percent for the U.S. fell again in April, while the index of lagging economic indicators slipped 0.5 percent.

The Conference Board said that, taken together, the behavior of the composite economic indexes suggests that the contraction in economic activity will continue in the near term, but will likely become less severe in upcoming months.

The leading economic index rose for the first time in seven months, and the strengths among its components exceeded the weaknesses for the first time in one and a half years.

Stock prices, the interest rate spread, consumer expectations, initial unemployment claims, the average workweek, and supplier deliveries all contributed positively to the index this month, more than offsetting the negative contributions from real money supply and building permits.

According to the Conference Board, the leading index has been generally falling since the middle of 2007, but the pace of its decline has slowed substantially in recent months. With this month's sharp and widespread increase, the six-month decline in the index is at its slowest since the fourth quarter of 2007.

Meanwhile, the coincident index fell once again in April, driven by continued declines in employment and industrial production.

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