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Leading indicators rise 0.9 percent in October

WASHINGTON — A gauge of future economic activity rose at solid pace in October, offering hope that the economy may see stronger growth in coming months.

The Conference Board reported Friday that its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.9 percent last month, significantly faster than the revised 0.1 percent rise in September and the 0.3 percent increase in August.

The economy, after growing at an anemic pace of just 0.9 percent in the first six months of the year, grew at a 2.5 percent rate in the July-September quarter. Some analysts are looking for even stronger growth in the current October-December quarter.

But even the most optimistic forecasters are not predicting growth will rebound to levels that would make a significant dent in the unemployment rate, which has been stuck around 9 percent for the past two years.

The October rebound in the leading index reflected positive contributions from building permits, the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates, a rising stock market and a slightly better employment reading.

Economists said the strong October gain in the leading index and other positive reports recently had at least eased fears that the economy would be in danger of slipping into a recession.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said that the latest leading indicators report was pointing “to continued growth this winter, possibly even gaining a little momentum by spring.”