Leading indicators in April soar past expectations

A stack of plywood is moved with a forklift in the warehouse at Maze Lumber in Peru, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A stack of plywood is moved with a forklift in the warehouse at Maze Lumber in Peru, Illinois.

An indicator of U.S. economic activity jumped in April, widely surpassing analyst expectations and suggesting that the weaker growth in the first quarter may be over. (Tweet this)

The Conference Board said Thursday its Leading Economic Index rose 0.7 percent to 122.3 in April following a 0.4 percent increase in March, and a 0.2 percent decline in February. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast the leading economic index to increase by 0.3 percent in April.

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What are leading economic indicators?
What are leading economic indicators?   

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"April's sharp increase in the LEI seems to have helped stabilize its slowing trend, suggesting the paltry economic growth in the first quarter may be temporary," said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the Conference Board, in the press release.

"However, the growth of the LEI does not support a significant strengthening in the economic outlook at this time. The improvement in building permits helped to drive the index up this month, but gains in other components, in particular the financial indicators, have been somewhat more muted."

The LEI is comprised of 10 components including manufacturer' new orders, stock prices, and average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance. The full report is available at The Conference Board.