The Conference Board Leading Economic Index had its second consecutive solid gain in April, a sign the economy’s recovery from the pandemic is gathering momentum, the research firm said Thursday.

The leading economic index rose 1.6% in April after a 1.3% gain in March. It was the strongest gain since last July.

“The U.S. LEI suggests the economy’s upward trend should continue and growth may even accelerate in the near term,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at the Conference Board.

The index has recovered fully from its COVID-19 contraction.

The coincident economic index, a measure of current activity, rose 0.3% in April following a 0.9% gain in the prior month. The lagging index rose 1.8% after a 3.7% decline in March.

The Conference Board now forecasts real GDP could grow around in a range of 8%-9% in the second quarter, with annual growth expected to reach 6.4%.

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