NEW YORK - A key predictor of economic health had its biggest decline in four years in February, suggesting that higher interest rates are beginning to cool the nation's torrid economic growth.

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators, a measure designed to predict the health of the economy six months ahead, fell 0.3% to 106.0 in February, compared with January's revised 0.2% gain. The index stood at 100 in 1992.

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