Vital Signs: Breaking Out of a Funk

Reports on spending should show if fourth quarter activity is picking up. On tap: October figures for consumer and producer prices, retail sales, industrial production and housing starts

Many economists believe the U.S. economy is beginning to work its way out of a mid-year funk. Consumers are expected to use the money freed up by lower gasoline prices to purchase other items, while businesses are expected to use their mountains of cash to fund even more investment projects. This widespread view will get its first real test this week, as a full round of figures on the economy's performance early in the fourth quarter become available.

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