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The growth rate for the Economic Cycle Research Institute's forward-looking gauge of the U.S. economy for the week ended Feb. 1 contracted 7.9%, its lowest in more than six years. ECRI's weekly leading index (WLI) level, however, increased to 133.5 from 131.1 in the prior period. The readings can differ because the index level measures weekly changes while the growth rate is derived from a four-week moving average.
"WLI growth has now dropped to a 75-month low," said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the institute. "While its weakness stems mainly from market perceptions, there is not much time for stimulus to reach the consumer in order to abort the self-reinforcing downturn under way."