Gauge of U.S. economy lower in latest week: ECRI

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York July 13, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of future U.S. economic growth was slightly lower in the latest week due to higher interest rates and slower housing, while its annualized growth rate reached a four-month high, 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 133.1 in the week to May 16 from 133.4 in the prior period, revised from 133.5.

The fall in the index was partly offset by higher stock prices and lower jobless claims, said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director at ECRI.

The index’s annualized growth rate improved to negative 6.6 percent, its highest since the week to December 21, from minus 7.2 percent.

“The fact that WLI growth has recovered to its best reading since before Christmas is notable, but falls short of any recovery signal for the business cycle,” said Achuthan. “Its uptick is fairly recent, and is not driven by a majority of index components.”

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