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Recession is ending, leading indicators say

The Conference Board index rose for its fifth straight month.

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Customers leave a store with their purchases in Alexandria, Va. An improvement in consumer expectations was one of five leading indicators in August pointing to an economic upturn.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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Indicators of the future direction of the economy improved for the fifth month in a row, signaling that the recession is ending.

The index of leading economic indicators jumped 0.6 percent in August, according to a Conference Board report released Wednesday. Five of the 10 indicators rose and three declined. The index is closely watched because it's designed to forecast the state of the economy a few months in advance.

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A separate Conference Board index, which measures current economic conditions, was essentially unchanged from its level in June or July.

"These numbers are consistent with the view that after a very severe downturn, a recovery is very near," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, in a release. “But the intensity and pattern of that recovery is more uncertain.”