updated 9/18/2008 10:36:59 AM ET 2008-09-18T14:36:59

The U.S. economy's health dropped for the second consecutive month in August as building permits dropped and unemployment claims rose, a private business group said Thursday.

Major Market Indices

The New York-based Conference Board said its monthly forecast of future economic activity declined 0.5 percent in August. That is more than the 0.2 percent decline expected by Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

The index fell 0.7 percent in July.

Supplier deliveries, manufacturing hours worked and consumer manufacturers' new orders for capital goods all fell.

"The indicators show little reason to expect better economic conditions over the next few months," said Ken Goldstein, a labor economist at the Conference Board. "We may not see any signs of improvement until well into the second half of 2009. Until then, a very slow economy is the most positive expectation."

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