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Gauge of future health of US economy posts solid 0.6 percent gain in June

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WASHINGTON — An index designed to predict the future health of the U.S. economy posted another solid increase in June, providing further hope that the economy will gain momentum in the second half of this year.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.6 percent in June following healthy gains of 0.8 percent in May and 0.6 percent in April.

PHOTO: FILE - In this June 1, 2015, file photo, Robin Rockey, of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, walks through a tunnel still under construction beneath Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nev. The Conference Board reports on its index of leading economic indicators for June on Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
FILE - In this June 1, 2015, file photo, Robin Rockey, of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, walks through a tunnel still under construction beneath Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nev. The Conference Board reports on its index of leading economic indicators for June on Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Conference Board economists said the string of solid increases point to continued economic strength for the rest of this year. The June advance was supported by favorable interest rates and strength in applications for home building permits.

Jesse Hurwitz, an economist at Barclays, said that the solid advance in the index was a reflection of a broad pickup in economic data in recent months which will be reflected in stronger economic growth.

Barclays is forecasting that the overall economy expanded at an annual rate of 3 percent in the April-June quarter, a sizable increase from the 0.2 percent contraction in activity in the first quarter. Economists believe the economy will keep growing at rates near 3 percent in the second half of the year.

The leading index is composed of 10-forward pointing indicators. Six of the 10 indicators advanced in June while three were unchanged and one indicator declined. The weakness came from a drop in stock prices.

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