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Index of indicators rises, showing economic 'pep'

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 7:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A gauge of the economy's health posted a solid gain in August in a sign of stronger growth in coming months.

The Conference Board said on Thursday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.7 percent in August, compared to July, when the index had risen 0.5 percent.

Conference Board economists said that the solid gains in July and August were a good sign after an earlier slowdown.

“The latest reading points to more pep in the pace of economic activity in the near term,” said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. “One unknown is how resilient confidence will remain, both consumer and business, given the mixed signals from the housing and labor markets.”

Goldstein said it's unclear whether confidence will be affected by the upcoming debates over passing a federal budget to avoid a government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling to avoid a market-rattling default on the government's debt.

The gain in the index in August was driven by strength in the labor market and financial sectors as well as by rising manufacturing orders. There was weakness in residential construction and consumer expectations.

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