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Short-term signs point to stronger growth

OTTAWA - The Conference Board says short-term indicators are pointing to a stronger spring for the Canadian economy.

The Ottawa-based think-tank says its composite leading index rose by 0.4 per cent in March, equal to an upwardly revised leap in February, with the troubled exports sector appearing poised for a major bounce-back due to increased demand in the United States.

The forward looking index comes on the same day as the U.S. reported its economy had created an above-consensus 288,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate dipped to 6.3 per cent.

The Bank of Canada has pointed to a U.S. recovery as a key factor to Canada's economic health going forward on the basis that more activity south of the border will pump up demand for Canadian exports of lumber and other building materials, as well as manufactured products.

Conference Board deputy chief economist Pedro Antunes cautions an element of the strong composite index reading is likely due to a one-time spurt following a quiet period in the early winter months due to unusually cold weather conditions.

As well, he says Canada's domestic economy is slowing, with both existing home sales and starts falling in recent months.

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