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Weekly Leading Index Edges Higher

A weekly gauge of future U.S. economic growth edged higher... while its growth rate rose to a three-year high, a research group said on Friday.

The Economic Cycle Research Institute, an independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index increased to 142.7 in the week ended May 4 from 142.4 in the prior week.

Its annualized growth rate rose to 5.2 percent, a three-year high, from 4.4 percent the previous week.

"WLI growth has improved significantly of late; accordingly, the U.S. economic growth outlook is fairly optimistic in contrast with the more coincident sales figures recently released," said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director at ECRI.

A Commerce Department report on Friday showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.2 percent in April. Economists in a Reuters survey had expected a rise of 0.4 percent.

Achuthan said the current softness in retail sales is consistent with the growth-rate cycle slowdown predicted by the decline in the WLI last year.