Research group says leading indicators dropped in April for first month in more than a year

NEW YORK (AP) — A private research group says its index of leading economic indicators dropped 0.1 percent in April, the first decline in more than a year.

It was the first decline in the index since March 2009. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a gain of 0.2 percent.

While 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 Conference Board's index forecasts economic activity in the next three to six months.

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.