April leading economic indicators fall 0.3% (by Ruth Mantell)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The pace of economic growth may be "choppy" in the summer and fall, the Conference Board said Thursday as it reported that its leading economic index fell 0.3% in April, the first monthly decline since June. "The economy has been growing moderately and delivering some new jobs," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, in a statement. Four of the 10 indicators included in the LEI made positive contributions in April, led by the interest rate spread. The largest negative contribution came from average weekly initial claims for unemployment-insurance benefits. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the index to show no growth in April. The gauge for March was revised higher to 0.7% from a prior estimate of 0.4%. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators that are designed to signal business cycle peaks and troughs. For the six months through April, the LEI gained 3.5%, up from 1.4% in the prior six months.