The forecast is based on an index of leading economic indicatorscompiled by the Cal State Fullerton Institute for Economic andEnvironmental Studies. The Southern California index rose 0.86% inthe latest quarter from the previous quarter, the school says, itsbiggest gain in a year.

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The national index rose only 0.37%. That means the US economy ingeneral will likely poke along over the next six months, but that afull-blown recession will probably be averted.

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"The current weak growth in the US economy is likely to continuefor the next quarter or two, whereas the prediction for theSouthern California region is for moderate growth," says AdrianFleissig, the Cal State Fullerton economist who prepared thereport.

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The Southland index is designed to forecast growth for Orange,San Diego, LA, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and Venturacounties. It is based on several factors that point to futureeconomic activity, from interest rates and the US money supply toemployment trends and permits for new construction.

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