A private research group says its gauge of future economic activity accelerated in October after a summer lull, suggesting the economy may slowly start picking up early next year.

The Conference Board says its index of leading economic indicators increased 0.5 percent last month. That matches a revised September reading of 0.5 percent. The September number had initially been reported as up 0.3 percent.

The latest increases are the fastest since May.

The index had grown steeply since April 2009 on the strength of the stock market, record-low interest rates and a rebound in manufacturing. But the rate of expansion had tapered off this summer as U.S. economic growth slowed.

Conference Board says financial conditions — rising stock prices, more money in the financial system — gave the biggest boost to its index in October.