NEW YORK (AP) _ A key gauge of future economic activity rose in April, signaling that the economy's growth will progress into next year.

The Conference Board, a private business research group, reported today that its Index of Leading Economic Indicators for April stood at 105.3, up from 105.2 in March. The gain, which was in line with economists' projections, marked the fourth consecutive monthly advance in the leading index.

Combined with the performance of two sister indicators, the index shows that the economy will continue its advance, the Conference Board said.