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RISMEDIA, May 22, 2009-The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose sharply in April 2009, the first increase in seven months, and the strengths among its components exceeded the weaknesses for the first time in one and a half years. The Index for the U.S. increased 1.0% in April, following a 0.2% decline in March and a 0.5% decline in February.

Seven of the 10 indicators that make up The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased in April. Among the positive contributors were stock prices, interest rate spread, the index of consumer expectations, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), average weekly manufacturing hours, index of supplier deliveries (vendor performance), and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials. The negative contributors included real money supply, building permits, and manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods.

The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. has been generally falling since the middle of 2007, but the pace of its decline has slowed substantially in recent months. With this month’s sharp and widespread increase, the six-month decline in the index is at its slowest since the fourth quarter of 2007.

Says Ken Goldstein, Economist at The Conference Board: “The leading indicators suggest that while the recession will continue in the near term, the declines will be less intense. The question is how long before declines in activity give way to small increases. If the indicators continue on the current track, that point might be reached in the second half of the year.”

For more information, visit www.conferenceboard.org.

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