The index that forecasts the direction of the United States economy posted a strong 0.8 percent increase in June, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. A rise in the index of leading indicators gave weight to the prevailing belief that the economy is expanding at a moderate rate, with no sign of a new recession in sight.
The index advanced in June for the fifth consecutive month in a performance that surpassed many economists' predictions. Higher prices for raw materials was a big factor, indicating that increased demand is driving costs up.
Other positive forces were higher demand for manufactured consumer goods, a jump in building permits, and a big rise in stock market prices.
In another report, the Commerce Department said sales of new homes edged up 3.5 percent in June, recovering slightly from a huge 13.2 percent decline the month before.