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Leading Indicators Signal Slowdown

Wed., Feb. 4, 1998

Economic growth is expected to moderate but continue steadily into 1998 after a key measure of future economic activity was unchanged in December.

The Index of Leading Indicators for December stood at 104.5, unchanged from its revised November figure, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. Economists had expected the index to rise 0.1 percent in December.

The pause ends five straight months of gains for the index. But its recent performance “shows a relatively healthy expansion,” said the report of the private research group.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported sales of new single-family homes tumbled 9.7 percent in December, the sharpest monthly drop in more than two years. The retreat came after a November gain that was the highest in 11 years and still left sales for 1997 at a 19-year high.

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