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Leading index suggests recession easing

NEW YORK, June 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. leading economic index rose sharply for the second consecutive month in May, The Conference Board, an economic research group, said Thursday.

The index measuring future economic conditions rose 1.2 percent, following a 1 percent rise in April, the report said.

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Vendor performance, stock prices, consumer expectations and building permits added to the positive trend in May.

Initial unemployment claims and weekly hours at work contributed negatively during the month.

The coincident index, measuring current conditions, fell in the month, dropping 0.2 percent, following a 3.5 percent drop in April.

Declines in employment and industrial production weighed on the coincident index, which has dropped at a 6.4 percent annual rate over the past six months.

The numbers, in total, suggest "the recession that began in December 2007 will likely ease in the near term," the Conference Board said.

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