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Economy’s spring slump could last through summer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy’s spring slump appears to be extending into the summer, according to a slew of mixed data released Thursday.

Layoffs are rising. Manufacturing activity in the Northeast expanded only slightly in July after contracting in June. Economic growth is projected to pick up this fall, but not enough to give businesses confidence to hire and speed the recovery.

The economy could lapse even further if Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach agreement on raising the nation’s borrowing limit in the coming week.

Economists are forecasting a third straight month of feeble hiring in July, based on the latest round of data. Expectations are the economy added somewhere in the range of 50,000 to 100,000 net new jobs this month.

That’s not enough to keep up with population growth and far below what is needed to lower the unemployment rate, which was 9.2 percent last month.

Meanwhile, a private research group forecast that the economy will grow slowly as summer turns into fall.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3 percent in June. The index had rebounded 0.8 percent in May after dropping 0.3 percent in April. The April decline was the first since June 2010.

The economy expanded at a 1.9 percent pace from January through March. Most economists believe growth was similarly weak from April through the end of June.

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