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Conference Board says its gauge of future economic activity posted slight increase in May

A measure of the U.S. economy's future health improved only slightly in May. But the modest gain followed a jump in April that suggests economic growth could pick up later this year.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators increased 0.1 percent last month to a reading of 95.2. That followed a stronger 0.8 percent rise in April.

Higher stock prices boosted the May index.

The index is intended to signal economic conditions three to six months out. It has been posting steady gains since December, one of many favorable signs for a stronger second half of the year.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said growth will depend on the strength of housing and consumers, which have helped offset government spending cuts and weak exports.

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