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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwest and Plains states jumped last month, suggesting improving economic growth for the region over the next three to six months.

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The Mid-America Business Conditions index hit 58.2 in March, compared with 53.1 in February and 53.2 in January. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he credits the index jump to "the strongest new-orders growth in two years."

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The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline for that factor. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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