WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy could be in for another bout of weakness in the months ahead, economists said yesterday after the Commerce Department reported that the index of leading economic indicators fell 0.3% in September.

The decline matched a revised 0.3% downturn in August, which was greater than the 0.2% dip reported last month, and marked the third decrease in the last four months. The index was up a slight 0. 1% in July, but it was also off 0.3% in June.

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