- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A survey of rural bankers in 10 Western and Plains states suggests a slightly brighter economic picture that remains shadowed by lower agriculture and energy commodity prices.

A March report released Thursday says the Rural Mainstreet Index rose to 40.2 from 37.0 in February and 34.8 in January. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey’s indexes suggests that factor will decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the monthly survey, and he says prices for farm products have fallen about 11 percent and fuel roughly 25 percent since June.

Goss says the confidence index dropped to 30.1 this month from 30.4 in February, reflecting the bankers’ pessimism.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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