A private research group says its forecast of economic activity rose in May, the second straight gain after seven months of declines.

The Conference Board says its index of leading economic indicators, designed to forecast activity in the next three to six months, rose 1.2 percent. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 0.9 percent increase in May.

The New York-based group says activity in the six-month period through May also rose 1.2 percent – the first time that measure has grown since April 2007.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says: “The recession is losing steam … if these trends continue, expect a slow recovery beginning before the end of the year.”

He says the job market will take longer to rebound.