U.S. economic growth strong, recovery imminent: ECRI

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of future U.S. economic growth edged higher in the latest week, sending its yearly growth rate to a two-year high that suggests a near-term end to the recession, a research group said on Friday.

The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index rose to 118.5 for the week ended July 3 from a downwardly revised 117.4 in the prior period, which ECRI initially reported at 117.6.

The index’s annualized growth rate plowed further into positive territory to a two-year high of 5.4 percent from 3.9 percent the week prior, which was revised lower from 4.0 percent.

It was the highest annual growth rate the gauge has seen since the week to July 20, 2007, when it read 5.7 percent.

ECRI Managing Director Lakshman Achuthan holds that recovery is imminent before the year’s end, as long as economic data continues to weaken at a slower pace.

“It is increasingly evident that, despite widespread misgivings based on backward-looking economic data, the end of recession is at hand,” said Achuthan.

The weekly index rose due to lower-than-expected jobless claims and stronger housing activity, according to Achuthan.

Reporting by Camille Drummond, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama