US economic bellwether steady for December

The index of leading US economic indicators was unchanged in December, at 136 .8 percent of its 1967 level, after a drop of 1.2 percent in November, according to the Commerce Department. The index is intended to point to the likely trend of economic activity. It is watched closely by economists, because three consecutive months of declines traditionally herald a recession.

Despite an overall fall of 5.8 percent last year, the index never showed three straight months of declines.

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