WASHINGTON (AFP) - Leading US economic indicators rose for the 10th consecutive month in January, pointing to a strengthening recovery in the next six months, the Conference Board said Thursday. The business research firm said its forward-looking leading economic index (LEI) advanced 0.3 percent in January, weaker than the 0.5 percent rise expected by most analysts. The index rose 1.2 percent in December and 1.1 percent in November, the firm said in a statement. Leading the improvement in January was the interest rate spread, supplier deliveries and average weekly manufacturing hours. The US LEI has risen steadily for nearly a year, led by an improvement in financial markets and a manufacturing upturn, said Ataman Ozyildirim, a Conference Board economist. Over the past six months, the index has climbed 4.8pc, slowing from a 6.2pc increase for the six months ending Sept 2009. But on an annualized basis, the US LEI has surged 9.8pc compared with the same period a year ago. This signals continued economic recovery at least through the spring, said Ken Goldstein, another economist at the firm. The survey also found the coincident index of current economic conditions rose 0.2 percent in January following no change in December and a 0.3 percent rise in November. The lagging index declined 0.1 percent in January, following a 0.3 percent decline in December and a 0.7 percent decline in November as the economy struggled to recover from the worst recession in decades.