NEW YORK (AP) _ A key gauge of U.S. economic activity fell in April after an uptick the previous month, suggesting a sluggish recovery, a private research firm said Monday.
The New York-based Conference Board reported its Index of Leading Economic Indicators declined 0.4 percent last month to 111.7 after rising 0.1 in March. Analysts had forecast a 0.1 percent decrease.
``The signal from the indicators is that the recovery is developing quite slowly,'' Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said. ``Despite the strong growth in Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter, the recovery in the industrial core remains weak.''
Consumption remains the engine of economic growth. But layoffs and slower growth in wages has cut into consumers' income, Goldstein said. Rising energy costs and the completion of most mortgage refinancing could slow household purchases in coming months, he said.
At the same time, business investment and exports remain weak, giving the economy little protection from a dropoff in consumer demand, Goldstein said.
The Conference Board is a nonprofit research and business group, with more than 2,700 corporate and other members around the world.