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US Economic Growth May Speed Up

The Leading Economic Index show U.S. economic growth may improve over the next three to six months.

The Conference Board's study of data thought to show the direction of the economy rose half a percentage point in February, a big improvement over the prior two months.

Reviewing the data published Thursday, analysts predicted that growth will pick up as the economy shakes off the effects of worse-than-usual winter weather.

That foul weather is partly to blame for a four-tenths of a percent decline in the number of homes sold in February. Analysts say rising prices and interest rates also played a role in the slowdown.

A separate government report showed the number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation rose slightly last week. The number of newly-laid off people seeking help rose by 5,000 to a nationwide total of 320,000. That total is still close to a four-month low.

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