The numbers: The leading economic index sank 0.7% in September and was negative for the 18th month in a row — but U.S. is on track to post a sizable increase in growth in third quarter.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.4% decline in the leading index, a gauge of 10 indicators designed to show whether the economy is getting better or worse.

A big losing streak typically foreshadows a recession, but the economy has continued to expand and some forecasters have dropped their call for a recession.