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Economy gains strength

Conference Board's leading index up 0.5% in May

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The Conference Board today announced that the U.S. leading index increased 0.5 percent in May from the previous month. The leading index now stands at 116.5 (1996=100). Based on revised data, this index increased 0.1 percent in April and increased 0.8 percent in March. During the six-month span through May, the leading index increased 2 percent, with nine out of 10 components advancing (diffusion index, six-month span equals 90 percent). The leading index 0.5 percent increase last month keeps the current growth rate of the leading index in the 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent range (annual rate), about the same as the approximately 4.5 percent growth rate since the low in March 2003. The pickup in the growth rate of the leading index last year signaled stronger economic growth, and correspondingly, real GDP has increased at a 5 percent to 5.5 percent annual rate since the middle of last year. The current 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent growth rate of the leading index is signaling the conti...