The seasonally adjusted Credit Manager's Index for April increased to 44.3 from 43 in March, marking the third consecutive increase for the index, according to a report released last week by the National Association of Credit Management. The index, a gauge of economic factors affecting credit and collection professionals, was down 5.7 points from 50 in April 2008, reports Collections & Credit Risk, a CardLine sister publication. Any score below 50 indicates economic deterioration. The index consists of four favorable factors, such as the amount of credit extended, and six unfavorable factors, such as accounts placed for collection and bankruptcy filings. Several factors still ranked below 50 last month, but more of them are improving, according to the report. Sales have continued to rise, as have new credit applications, collected dollars and the amount of credit extended. "The index of favorable factors increased quite substantially from 43.1 to 44.8, marking the highest reading since November 2008 when the real economic collapse began to manifest itself," Chris Kuehl, the association's economist, said in the report. "There are no index values above 50 as of yet, so they are all still in the contraction zone. But the trending is in the right direction."