NEW YORK (AP) -- A key gauge of future U.S. economic activity inched higher for the third straight month in June, though it indicates the overall economy remains fragile.
The New York-based Conference board said its Index of Leading Economic Indicators, rose 0.3 percent to 109.6 last month after rising 0.5 percent to 105.3 in May.
Analysts were expecting a 0.2 percent increase.
''The recovery in the leading index could indicate that the economy is poised for growth by late summer,'' says Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. ''There appears to be enough economic demand to end the slide in industrial production, though no strong rebound appears in sight.''
The index also suggested that the service economy has yet to show signs of weakening, Goldstein said. He predicted that continued growth in that sector and some recovery in manufacturing would generate some job, income and gross domestic product growth later this year.
The index is closely watched because it indicates where the overall U.S. economy is headed in the next three to six months. It stood at 100 in 1996, its base year.
The group's index of coincident indicators, which measures current economic activity, fell 0.1 percent in June to 116.2. The index of lagging indicators, which reflect changes that have already occurred, slipped 0.8 percent to 105.7.
The Conference Board is a nonprofit research and business group, with more than 2,700 corporate and other members around the world.
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