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Light At End Of Economic Tunnel?

U.S. leading economic indicators rose one percent in May, "finally" pointing to a recovery, the Conference Board said Thursday.

Eight of the 10 indicators increased in May, led by money supply, consumer expectations and stock prices. Two other indicators held steady in May.

Economists expected a gain of 0.7 percent after April's 0.1 percent gain, according to a survey conducted by

"The leading economic index finally points to a recovery, almost a year and a half after the end of the recession," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the board.

"But the dangers present in the first five months of the year have not disappeared completely," Goldstein said. "Chief among them is a lack of business confidence."

The leading index, which is designed to forecast turning points in the economy, rose 0.1 percent in April.

"It is possible that these two consecutive increases reflect the beginning of an upward trend, thereby ending the flat trend that began in early 2002," the board said.

The coincident index rose 0.1 percent in May after falling in four of the previous eight months. The lagging index dropped 0.1 percent in May.

In other reports released Thursday:

  • The Labor Department reported small declines in first-time claims for jobless benefits, while the number of workers receiving checks remained at a 20-year high. The report showed little improvement in a sluggish labor market..
  • The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened in the first quarter to $136.1 billion, from $128.6 billion in the fourth quarter.
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