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U.S. Econ Expansion to Ease Off by Mid-Year

A forward-looking measure of U.S. economic growth slipped further in the latest week, while its yearly growth gauge continued to slide from October's record highs, suggesting expansion will likely ease by mid-year, a research group said on Friday.

The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index fell to 128.4 for the week ended Feb.12 from 130.0 the prior week.

It was the lowest reading since November 13, 2009, when it stood at 127.5.

The index's annualized growth rate declined for the tenth straight week to 17.1 percent, from 19.6 percent in the prior report, which was revised down from an original 19.7 percent.

It was the lowest rate since Aug. 7, 2009 when it read 14.6 percent.

Reaffirming last week's forecast, ECRI Managing Director Lakshman Achuthan emphasized that the pace of economic expansion "will begin to ease off by mid-2010," as the yearly growth figure continued to fall from an October record high.

Achuthan, who deems the current recovery as strongest since the early 1980s, said the index show that "with the 6 percent GDP growth and the jobless rate having peaked back in October... a double dip is still out of the question."