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More good economic news:

An index of U.S. manufacturing rose to a two-decade high in January as factories boosted production to replace depleted inventories and meet improving demand.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index last month increased to 63.6, the highest since 1983, from 63.4 in December. It’s the eighth straight month the index has been greater than 50, signaling expansion. Construction spending rose in December for a seventh straight month and consumer purchases increased, separate Commerce Department reports showed.

The pace of growth in the last six months of 2003 was the strongest in almost two decades, causing inventories to drop to record lows. Reduced stockpiles and rising sales suggest that factories will ramp up production. The White House today forecast the economy to grow 4.4 percent this year, the most since 1999.


Of course, the question remains: Where are the jobs?

Also keep in mind that faster growth could will eventually mean higher interest rates — which could prick the housing bubble (if indeed we’re in one; your own region may vary).


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