DETROIT - The Recession Watch Index compiled by Comerica Bank, which forecasts the possibility of a national recession occurring within the next 12 months, registered 22% in February, the bank said.

In January, the index placed chances of a recession at 16%.

"February's 22% reading is the highest level since August 1991, when the economy was pulling out of recession," said William T. Wilson, vice president and economist at Detroit-based Comerica. "The sharp rise in the index over the last six months indicates that an economic slowdown is likely throughout the year, but not enough to produce a recession," he said.

Comerica's Recession Watch Index is a weighted average of three leading indicators: spread in the yield curve, adjusted bank reserve growth, and the Commerce Department's Index of Leading Indicators.

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