U.S. leading economic indicators drop slightly in April

08:42, May 21, 2010      

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The U.S. index of leading economic indicators dropped 0.1 percent in April, the first decline in more than a year, according to an influential private research group.

The Conference Board's index, which forecasts economic activity in the next three to six months, fell for the first time since March 2009. Economists had expected a gain of 0.2 percent.

The research group also revised its March growth estimate to 1.3 percent, slightly less than the 1.4 percent growth it had previously estimated.

The U.S. Commerce Department's latest data showed that the American economy grew 3.2 percent in the first quarter this year. It was the third consecutive quarter of growth.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Tuesday that "the American economy is getting stronger. We are coming out of the worst economic crisis in generations."

However, analysts said that although the recovery from the recession has spread more broadly through the U.S. economy this spring, a big drop-off in plans to build homes and a debt crisis in Europe may have weighed on growth, discouraging employers from hiring.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits rose for the first time in five weeks. It totaled 471,000 in the week ending May 15, up 25,000 or 5.6 percent from the prior week's revised figure of 446,000.



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