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Leading index suggests US economy is mending

The Conference Board's economic indicators were positive for the third straight month in June, though recovery may be slow.

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Construction worker Akram Humaideh begins new home construction Friday in Springfield, Ill. According to the Conference Board, a business research group in New York, future economic activity rose more than expected in June, the third straight monthly increase.

Seth Perlman/AP

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Fresh signs emerged Monday that the US economy may start growing again in the months ahead, despite obstacles posed by a historic financial crisis.

An index of future economic activity rose in June for the third straight month, according to the Conference Board, a business research group in New York. Seven of the 10 forward-looking indicators that make up the group's “leading economic index” showed a positive trend in June. Among the most significant: Stock prices jumped, new claims for unemployment benefits fell, and construction firms began seeking more permits to build new homes.

All this doesn't mean the economy is on the cusp of a vigorous rebound. But they are important signs that a mending process is under way.

Another positive signal came Monday in a survey of business forecasters. They still say that America's gross domestic product will be smaller at year-end than it was in January, but they are no longer downgrading their outlook the way they were at beginning of the year.

“[The] Survey provides new evidence that the U.S. recession is abating, but few signs of an immediate recovery,” said economist Sara Johnson of IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., who released the survey on behalf of the National Association for Business Economics, in a statement.

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