Despite housing and credit woes, the U.S. economy grew a better-than-expected
3.9 percent in the third quarter of this year, said the Commerce
Department on October 31. This is the strongest expansion since the
first quarter of 2006. Interestingly, consumer spending also rebounded to a 3
percent annual rate in the third quarter, from only a 1.4 percent gain
in the second quarter. Yet the Conference Board reported on October 30
that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 95.6 in October from a
revised 99.5 in September, marking the lowest level since October 2005.
And, only 63 percent of large and 76 percent of small manufacturing
companies who responded to a NAM survey had a positive third-quarter
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