WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of the U.S. economy's future health rose in solidly in April, buoyed by a sharp rise in applications to build new homes and apartments.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators increased 0.6 percent last month to a reading of 95. That followed a 0.2 percent decline in March.

The index is intended to signal economic conditions three to six months out.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said the index is 3.5 percent higher at an annual rate than it was six months ago, suggesting expansion for the economy. He said the biggest risk at the moment is the drag from cuts in federal spending.

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