ECRI Index Shows Weak but Steady Rebound

U.S. economic growth may be slowing but the country will not slip back into recession, according to a weekly report published Friday.

The Economic Cycle Research Institute said its weekly gauge of U.S. economic activity fell to a six-month low of 120.1 last week from 121.4 in the previous week.

The index was dragged lower by a dip in applications for new mortgages, a decline in stock prices and a rise in initial claims for unemployment benefits, said Anirvan Banerji, research director at ECRI.

"The decline in the index does not translate into recession, but it does translate into a slowdown in growth," he said.

But a recent drop in the number of corporate bond deals represents a ray of hope in a cloudy economic picture, Banerji said, even as financial markets worry that corporate accounting scandals could have thrown a wrench into an already sputtering recovery.

Fewer bond deals help corporations in the same way that low interest rates help home buyers -- the lower demand makes it cheaper for firms to borrow money, he said.

The index's growth rate, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell to 1.5 percent from 2.3 percent in the preceding week. A weak reading, but nowhere near recessionary levels, says Banerji. Last October the growth rate sank to as low as 9 percent.

The Weekly Leading Index is composed of a balance 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.