December 21, 2007 / 3:32 PM / 12 years ago

US leading index growth rate at new 5-yr low -ECRI

NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - A weekly gauge of future U.S. economic growth fell due to higher interest rates and jobless claims along with lower industrial commodity prices, as its annualized growth rate hit a more than five-year low, a research group said on on Friday.

The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index fell to 136.2 in the week to Dec. 14, from a downwardly revised 137.9 in the prior week, initially reported as 138.0.

The negative effect of higher interest rates and jobless claims was partially offset by stronger money supply growth, said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director at ECRI.

WLI growth rate fell to minus 4.8 percent from minus 3.9 percent, to its lowest since Nov. 1, 2002 when it was minus 5.2 percent, according to ECRI data.

“With Weekly Leading Index growth not far from its lowest reading since the 2001 recession, U.S. growth prospects have clearly darkened, but a recession is still not inevitable,” Achuthan said. (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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