Annualized growth rate at 22-week high: ECRI

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of future U.S. economic growth slipped in the latest week but its annualized growth rate, while still in recessionary territory, was at a 22-week high, indicating improvement in short-term growth prospects, a research group said on Friday.

The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index slipped to 132.8 in the week to May 23 from 133.0 in the prior period, revised down from 133.1.

The decline in the index was due to higher jobless claims and lower stock prices, but was mostly offset by lower interest rates and stronger housing, said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director at ECRI.

The index’s annualized growth rate improved to negative 6.0 percent, its highest since the week to December 21, from minus 6.6 percent.

“The WLI declined for the third straight week, but its smoothed growth rate recovered to a 22-week high,” said Achuthan. “Thus, shorter-term U.S. growth prospects have improved a little, but remain recessionary.”

Occasionally the WLI and the growth rate move in different directions, because growth is derived from a four-week moving average.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler