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U.S. economic indicators show gains

WASHINGTON – A measure of the U.S. economy designed to signal future activity increased in December from November, suggesting growth may strengthen in 2013.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.5 percent in December, the best showing since September.

In November, the index was unchanged. The gauge is designed to anticipate economic conditions three to six months out.

A decline in applications for unemployment benefits, gains on Wall Street and increases in applications for building permits drove the index higher in December.

Standard & Poor’s 500 index traded above 1,500 Thursday morning, this was the first time since December 2007.

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