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Leading indicators drop; weekly jobless mark set

The index of leading economic indicators, a key barometer of the country's economic activity, fell sharply in August after four straight increases, the Commerce Department reported. The index, designed to predict trends in the economy, fell 0.9 percent.

Separately, the Labor Department said 703,000 Americans filed their first claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the week ended Sept. 18, up from 612,000 the week before and the highest weekly figure since the department began keeping records in 1967.

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