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Gauge of US economy rises 0.3 percent in June

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health increased in June for a fifth consecutive month, supporting the view that economic growth should accelerate in the second half of this year.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.3 percent last month. That was slightly lower than forecast but the May increase was revised up to a 0.7 percent gain, a bit stronger than first estimated.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says that stronger consumer demand, driven by sustained job gains, should help boost the economy in coming months.

The economy shrank sharply in the first three months of the year, reflecting the effects of a harsh winter, but economists are looking for a rebound in the second half of this year.

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