There was a sharp, 1.4% jump last month in a widely watched index that's supposed to tell how the economy will be doing in coming months.
And the increase in the private Conference Board's Leading Economic Index was well above the 0.9% gain that most many economists expected.
In a statement, Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says "the indicators point to a slow recovery that should continue over the next few months."
According to the board:
"Seven of the ten indicators that make up the Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased in March. The positive contributors — beginning with the largest positive contributor — were the interest rate spread, average weekly manufacturing hours, the index of supplier deliveries (vendor performance), stock prices, building permits, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), and manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials. The negative contributors — beginning with the largest negative contributor — were real money supply, manufacturers' new orders for nondefense capital goods and the index of consumer expectations."
Planet Money sorts through the economic data here.