ByJohn S. McClenahen The leading economic index for France rose 0.2% in April, following a 0.3% increase in March and no change in February, the New York-based Conference Board reported on June 17. The leading index for France now stands at 103.5 (1990=100). "The growth rate of the leading index has been improving since late -- 2002, and . . . the persistent widespread growth in the leading index suggests a continuation of . . . recent economic growth, or even some further pickup in the near term," said the business research group.