WASHINGTON (AFP) - A forward-looking US economic index rose for a third consecutive month in June, a business research group said Monday in another sign the brutal recession is near an end. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators, a measure of economic conditions in the coming months, climbed 0.7pc in June after a 1.3pc increase in May and a 1.0pc rise in April. The increase was stronger than market forecasts for a 0.5 percent rise in June. The recession has been losing steam since the spring, although very large job losses continue, said Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. Nevertheless, confidence is slowly rebuilding. Financial markets are less volatile. Even the housing market is stabilizing. If these trends continue, expect a slow recovery this autumn. Other indexes in the survey remained weak. The coincident index of current activity fell 0.2pc in June, following a 0.3pc decline in May. The lagging index slumped 0.7pc in June, following a 0.4pc decline in May. The forward-looking leading index was driven by positive views on interest rate spreads, building permits, stock prices, weekly unemployment claims, average weekly manufacturing hours and orders for consumer goods and materials. The business research firm said that the behavior of the composite indexes suggests that the recession will continue to ease and that the economy may begin to recover in the near term.