Economic Index Points to US Recovery

THE United States government's chief economic forecasting gauge turned higher in October after having fallen in three of the previous four months, the Commerce Department said Dec. 1.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators jumped 0.4 percent, the Commerce Department said in its first post-election report on the index. It had edged down 0.1 percent in September, revised from minus 0.3 percent. It fell in August, rose in July and fell in June.

The index is intended to forecast economic activity six to nine months in advance. In the past, three consecutive declines have sometimes, but not always, foretold a recession. The index's recent movement fits with analysts' belief that the economy still faces a struggle to mount a sustainable recovery. They had expected the modest rise in October.

Six of the index's 11 forward-looking indicators turned stronger last month, two were neutral and three were negative. The leading positive indicator was a 13.7 percent drop in average weekly unemployment-benefit claims, the steepest drop since December 1982.

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