A commercial real estate index maintained by the National Association of Realtors rose slightly in the first quarter to the highest level on record, though its rise has decelerated over the past year, according to the NAR.The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity stood at 120.3 in the first quarter, up 0.2% from 120.1 in the fourth quarter and 0.8% from 119.3 a year earlier, the association reported. "Rising industrial production, a rise in the REIT price index, growth in commercial jobs, rising income, and gains in wholesale sales contributed to the rise in our leading indicator," said NAR senior economist Lawrence Yun. "On the other hand, deteriorating economic conditions have been a drag -- specifically, a marked decline in durable goods shipments, a decline in return on commercial investment, and an increase in the number of people filing for unemployment insurance." The association can be found online at http://www.realtor.org.

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