An indicator of future economic activity dipped in July, a private research group reported Thursday, in the latest sign that economic growth is cooling off.

The Conference Board, an industry-backed research group based in New York, said its index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.1 percent in July from June, following an increase of 0.1 percent in June and a 0.5 percent decline in May. Analysts had expected an increase of 0.1 percent.

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The index, which is aimed at forecasting economic activity for the following three to six months, stood at 138.1, below its high so far this year of 139.1 in January.

Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board, said a slowdown in the housing sector is becoming more pronounced, causing a drag on the economy. He also pointed to higher interest rates, lower consumer confidence and higher energy prices as other factors keeping growth in check.

However, he said it did not appear that the economy was headed for a hard landing. "The economy is cooling but isn't likely to stall out," Goldstein said.

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