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Israel's combined economic performance index slid 1.2 percent in January, its sixth straight drop, the research division of the Bank of Israel said yesterday.

"The steep decline in the index this month and declines in the last few months testify that the economy is sliding into a recession, whose first signs appeared in the index in the last quarter of 2008," the central bank said in a statement. The index dropped by 0.4% in October, 0.5% in November and 0.8% in December.

The industrial production component of the January index, which was measured in December, rose by 0.7% after falling 0.6% in November. But revenue from commerce and services, another component that was measured in December, dropped by 6.1% after a 1.2% decline in November.

The services export index fell by 2.3% in January, following an 11.8% free-fall in December. The goods export index slid 0.9% in January, after a sharp 7.3% drop in December.

The import index fell by 0.4% in January after registering an unprecedented 20% crash in December.