Economic bellwether slips again

A closely watched index designed to predict the course of the economy fell in February for the tenth consecutive month, the government said, suggesting that the recession has not yet run its course.

The Commerce Department said its composite index of leading economic indicators fell 0.3 percent last month and also declined more in December and January than reported earlier.

The index, compiled from 12 pieces of economic data, fell 1.2 percent in January and 0.8 percent in December, the department said. A month ago it reported declines of 0.6 percent in January and 0.3 percent in December.

Despite the unfavorable data, Reagan administration economists believe the economy is no longer deteriorating and may even grow slightly in the quarter that begins on April 1.

The declines were partly offset by a slight rise in the money supply and increased orders for manufactured goods.

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