The United States government said Nov. 3 its chief economic forecasting gauge fell 0.3 percent in September, suggesting that the next president will find economic sluggishness continuing through much of next year.

It was the third 0.3 percent decline in four months - and the second in a row - in the Commerce Department's Index of Leading Economic Indicators. The index is designed to forecast economic activity six to nine months away.

Six of the 11 forward-looking indicators fell in September, while five rose.

Many analysts believe the economy is growing at less than 2 percent annually, although the gross domestic product increased at a 2.7 percent rate in the third quarter - a number some said overstated its strength.

But even at 2.7 percent, the growth rate would be less than half that of most recoveries following other recessions since World War II.

Analysts contend that the fourth-quarter rate will be significantly lower.

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