Bellwether index shows economic pickup ahead

An index designed to predict trends for the US economy rose in March for the first time in four months, the govvernment said. The Commerce Department reported its index of leading economic indicators rose 1.4 percent last month, after declines of 0.5 percent in February, 1 percent in January, and 0.4 percent in December. The report was another in a recent string of government releases that have shown the economy performing much better than private economists had predicted it would this spring.

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