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Leading indicators hint at economic growth

/ Source: The Associated Press

A gauge of future economic activity rose modestly in August, suggesting that slow economic growth will continue this winter.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said Thursday its index of leading economic indicators increased 0.3 percent last month after rising 0.1 percent in July.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected another 0.1 percent increase in August.

The index had grown steeply starting in April 2009 thanks to a comeback in the stock market, record-low interest rates and the rebound in manufacturing. But the rate of increase leveled off this past summer as U.S. economic growth slowed.

Some analysts are worried that the economy could fall back into recession. The Conference Board said the index is not currently predicting another steep downturn in the U.S.

"Expect more of the same — a weak economy with little forward momentum through 2010 and early 2011," said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein in a statement.

The group said seven of the 10 measures which make up the index increased in August, an improvement from recent months. The Conference Board measures data, most of which has already been released, about real estate, manufacturing, employment, consumer confidence and financial markets.