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ECONOMIC INDEX RISES 2ND MONTH IN A ROW

Utah's index of leading economic indicators rose 0.9 percent in April, the second consecutive monthly gain, according to a report from First Security Corp.

Kelly Matthews, First Security senior vice president and chief economist, said, "The March and April index improvements suggest that the economic softness evident in the fourth quarter of 1990 has been reversed and the outlook for business condition for the summer months is optimistic."He said the four index components making positive contributions in April are non-residential construction value, new dwelling unit permits, new automobile loans and lower consumer loan delinquency rate.

The largest growth momentum of the index, which measures the change from last year, showed an April increase of 2.1 percent, the largest 12-month gain since the 2.3 percent in October 1990.

The April index was 158.5 compared to 157.1 in March. Matthews has used a base of 100 since the index began being tracked in 1978.

"The annual growth momentum recorded negative changes in November and December, but a distinct improving trend has been established in the first four months of 1991," said Matthews. By contrast, since August the U.S. index has consistently been below the level of a year ago.

Individual indicators used in the Utah index include new automobile loans, the consumer-loan delinquency rate, initial claims for unemployment and valuation of non-residential construction permits. It also considers new dwelling permits, manufacturing workweek hours, non-agricultural job placements, new automobile sales and new Utah corporations.

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(Color Chart)

Index of leading indicators

Despite a generally sluggish U.S. economy, Utah's index of leading economic indicators has shown an improving trend during the first four months of 1991. This reverses the negative changes that occurred during the last few months of 1990. (see microfilm for complete chart)