The U.S. economy hit the brakes in December, a leading economic index showed, after a record increase in coronavirus cases triggered more layoffs and hurt businesses again.

The leading economic index rose 0.3% last month, the Conference Board said Thursday, but that marked a sharp slowdown from gains of 0.7% in November and 0.9% in October. It was the smallest increase in eight months.

“The US LEI’s slowing pace of increase in December suggests that U.S. economic growth continues to moderate in the first quarter of 2021,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles research at the board.

Read: U.S. economic growth slowed to 4% annual pace at end of 2020

Yet he also predicted the economy would reaccelerate in the spring and beyond after a sluggish first quarter of 2021.

The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys.

A bounty of evidence of a slowing economy, however, has not done much to slow the ascent of the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.80% and S&P 500 SPX, +1.91% rose in Thursday trades.

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