U.S. Economic Gauge Falls Amid Housing Slump

Conference Board predicts softer consumer spending this summer.

U.S. economic momentum dropped a surprise 0.5% in April, largely as the nation's housing market remained "mired" in a slump, a survey of future activity showed May 17. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators, a gauge of economic activity in the coming six to nine months, fell 0.5% last month. Most Wall Street economists had expected the index to remain unchanged.

The latest snapshot showed that the housing market downturn was continuing to sap U.S. economic vitality. "With the industrial core of the economy already slow, and housing mired in a continued slump, there are some signs that these weaknesses may be beginning to soften both consumer spending and hiring this summer," said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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