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Index of leading indicators points to more US economic growth

The index that forecasts the direction of the United States economy posted a strong 0.8 percent increase in June, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. A rise in the index of leading indicators gave weight to the prevailing belief that the economy is expanding at a moderate rate, with no sign of a new recession in sight.

The index advanced in June for the fifth consecutive month in a performance that surpassed many economists' predictions. Higher prices for raw materials was a big factor, indicating that increased demand is driving costs up.

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Other positive forces were higher demand for manufactured consumer goods, a jump in building permits, and a big rise in stock market prices.

In another report, the Commerce Department said sales of new homes edged up 3.5 percent in June, recovering slightly from a huge 13.2 percent decline the month before.

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