U.S.: Consumers' Shopping Carts Are Filling Fast

Solid fundamentals and warm weather keep the economy pulsing

Buying power: U.S. consumers have it, Asians don't. Therein lies the dichotomy in the economy's first-quarter performance. Income growth is surging this quarter, and low inflation is stretching paychecks further. Throw in El Nino's gift of a mild winter in the East, and you have the makings of a powerful spurt in consumer spending and homebuilding. But at the same time, Asia's meltdown is hurting exports, and U.S. manufacturers are starting to feel the effects.

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