WLI Rises Sharply

The initial lifting of uncertainty over the onset of the U.S.-led war in Iraq helped the economy move away from a possible renewed recession in the week ended March 21, a report showed on Friday.

"What you have in this week's reading is what looks like a possible change in direction," ECRI Managing Director Lakshman Achuthan said. "It shows us leaning away from a new recession."

But, Achuthan added: "We are not out of the woods yet, and these gains in the index need to be reinforced in the coming weeks."

The index rose to 120.6 in the week ended March 21, up from 118.1 in the prior week. Its growth rate, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, rose to -1.3 percent from -2.3 percent.

The Weekly Leading Index is composed of a balance of several major economic indicators.

ECRI designs short- and long-term indexes aimed at predicting business cycles, recessions and recoveries in the world's leading economies.