WASHINGTON - The leading U.S. economic index fell 0.2% in July after four straight strong gains, largely because of a decline in U.S. permits to build new homes, the Conference Board said Thursday. "Despite a sharp drop in housing permits, the U.S. LEI is still pointing to moderate economic growth through the remainder of the year," said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business Cycles and growth research at the board. The coincident index, which measures current conditions, edged up 0.2% in July. The lagging index rose 0.3%. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys.
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