ECRI Weekly Index Falls in Wake of Katrina

Higher jobless claims and lower stock prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (search) caused a gauge of the U.S. economy to slip in the latest week, the Economic Cycle Research Institute (search) said on Friday.

Higher interest rates also contributed to the decline of the ECRI weekly leading index.

ECRI (search), an independent forecasting group, said its weekly leading index slipped to 134.3 in the week ended September 16 from a downwardly revised 134.7 in the prior week.

"In the last couple of weeks we're starting to see the Katrina impact," said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of ECRI.

This is the third reading of the weekly leading index since Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29.

The index's annualized growth rate eased to 2.2 percent in the week from a downwardly revised 2.7 percent a week earlier.

"The real question is will the economy be left standing after the one-two punch of Katrina and Rita?" Achuthan said.

"However, the weekly leading index shows the economy is not buckling under the various shocks and we don't have any indication of collapse."