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RISE OF .8% IN INDEX FUELS U.S. RECOVERY

The government's chief economic forecasting gauge rose 0.8 percent in February, the second straight advance and the latest suggestion the emerging recovery would continue.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday the February gain, together with a revised 1 percent increase a month earlier, marked the first back-to-back advance since a string of six gains ending last July. The January index first was estimated to have risen 0.9 percent.The improvement was broad-based, with seven of the 11 forward-looking indicators contributing to the increase. It was in line with most forecasts.

The report said the seven indicators contributing to the increase were a longer average workweek; a growing money supply; an increase in building permits; rising prices for raw materials suggesting increased demand; an improvement in consumer confidence; rising orders for consumer goods; and slower delivery times indicating increased orders.

The four negative contributors were fewer unfilled factory orders, falling stock prices, a decrease in orders for new plants and equipment and rising first-time claims for unemployment insurance.

Recent signs of a growing economy have included rising automobile and other retail sales, and activity in the housing sector that traditionally leads the recovery.