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WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The leading economic index rose a slight 0.1% in February, but that was before the coronavirus began to bring U.S. growth to a standstill. "The U.S. LEI rose slightly in February, but it doesn't reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which began to hit the U.S. economy in full by early March," said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles research at the Conference Board, producer of the report. "As a result, the economy may already be entering into a period of contraction." The index is sure to fall sharply in the next few months and likely signal recession. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys.

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