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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - A key gauge meant to predict the U.S. economy's performance fell for the fourth time in five months in February, a research group said Thursday, the latest sign of weakness in the world's largest economy.
The Conference Board said its index of leading indicators dipped 0.3 percent last month after a revised 0.5 percent increase in January. Wall Street forecasts were for a 0.2 percent drop, according to a survey of economists by Briefing.com.
The Leading Economic Index suggests that this period of slower growth will probably continue for the next few months.
Conference Board's Ken Goldstein
Still, the index has not declined enough to signal a recession, the group said. But the New York-based group provided little encouragement that the economy would rebound any time soon.
"The Leading Economic Index suggests that this period of slower growth will probably continue for the next few months," Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said in the report. The index fell in each of the last three months of 2000.
Other economists agreed. "The Leading Economic Index is basically telling us what we already know," Bruce Steinberg, chief economist at Merrill Lynch, said, according to Associated Press. "Despite the declines in the index, the economy is growing, although very slowly."
The report comes two days after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates sharply for the third time this year in a bid to prevent the United States from slipping into recession.
Stocks fell sharply in morning trading, with the Dow Jones industrial average sinking 2 percent to join other leading gauges in bear market territory.
Separately, new jobless claims by Americans edged lower last week but the numbers still indicated the job market was weakening.
The Conference Board said five of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index rose last month: money supply, interest rate spread, vendor performance and manufacturers' new orders. The negative contributors were new jobless claims, consumer expectations, weekly manufacturing hours, stock prices and building permits.＜本文发表于: 相约加拿大:枫下论坛 www.rolia.net/f ＞