The Conference Board said today that its index of leading economic indicators increased 0.4% in July, the fourth straight increase. The index now stands at 112.5. It had increased a revised 0.3% in June and 1.1% in May. The LEI is closely watched by trucking companies because it forecasts business activity for the next three to six months. Economists had forecast the leading indicators index would rise 0.4%, Bloomberg said. The board's index of coincident indicators, a gauge of current economic activity, increased 0.1% in July for a third month. The index tracks payrolls, incomes, sales and production.The index of lagging indicators also rose 0.1% last month.Five of the 10 indicators the Conference Board uses to derive the leading index contributed to the rise: interest rate spread, real money supply, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance, vendor performance and stock prices.The negative contributors were average weekly manufacturing hours, index of consumer expectations, building permits, manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods.