WLI Rises

A gauge of the U.S. economy rose last week for the third straight week, dispelling some of the concerns surrounding ongoing economic sluggishness, a report showed on Friday.

"In the eight weeks since just before the war started, the index has been driven up by persuasive upward movement in practically all of its components,"

ECRI Research Director Anirvan Banerji told Reuters. "A double-dip recession is quite clearly not likely, but it's absence doesn't herald anything beyond sub-par growth."

The index's growth rate, a four-week moving average which smoothes out weekly fluctuations, also rose in the latest week, to 2.1 percent from 0.9 percent.

In other data on Friday, sources said the University of Michigan reported that consumer confidence so far in May had risen well above expectations.

The Weekly Leading Index is composed of seven major economic indicators. ECRI designs short- and long-term indexes aimed at predicting business cycles, recessions and recoveries in the world's leading economies.