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Leading economic indicators advance 1.1 percent in December

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By The Staff

NEW YORK (AP) — A forecast of future economic activity jumped 1.1 percent in December, a private research group said Thursday, suggesting that economic growth could pick up this spring.

The increase in the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators was larger than the 0.7 percent rise that economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected.

The gauge had risen a revised 1 percent in November — it was initially reported as a 0.7 percent increase— and has been up for nine consecutive months.

Some economists have been worrying that growth in the economy will stagnate this year as government support programs wind down and unemployment remains high.

The leading indicators index is designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months.

Eight of the 10 components in the index showed improvement in December, with the strongest gains in the so-called interest rate spread and building permits, which are a signal of future home construction.

The interest rate spread is the difference between the cost of borrowing money for 10 years and borrowing overnight.