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Oregon economic growth likely to stay solid.

Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard

Oregon's solid pace of economic growth should continue through the summer, according to the University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators.

The monthly index, which tracks eight measures of economic activity, is a predictor of the state's economy in the coming months.

"The general tone of the data that we're receiving has been positive," said Tim Duy, director of the Oregon Economic Forum and author of the index. "There are some weak spots, but they're always balanced out by some strong spots somewhere else."

One potential weak spot is residential building permits. Permit activity in Oregon edged up slightly in April, but it appears to be entering a slower phase after peaking in the middle of last year, Duy said.

There are two possible reasons: Cooling in the national real estate market is reaching Oregon, plus builders say that Oregon is running out of available lots to build on.

Meanwhile, capital equipment spending is on the upswing again.

The big question mark out there, Duy said, is whether there will be some kind of hand-off, whereby the real estate market slows, but the underlying economy remains strong because capital spending picks up.

In April, four of the UO index's indicators improved, three worsened, and one was unchanged.

Indicators that improved were Oregon initial unemployment claims, Oregon residential building permits, The Oregonian help-wanted ads, and the interest rate spread - the difference between short- and long-term interest rates. Indicators that worsened were Oregon weight distance tax, a measure of transportation activity; U.S. consumer confidence and U.S. manufacturing orders. Oregon nonfarm payrolls data was unchanged.

Tom Penix / The Register-Guard
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 8, 2006
Words:274
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