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In late 2004 the national economy continued to strengthen, having endured a few bumps along the way. After a summer slump, the economy lumbered into the third quarter, albeit more slowly than expected. The third quarter 3.2 percent gross domestic

Better Days Ahead 

Economists have many reasons to be optimistic this year. Interest rates remain low, keeping consumer spending patterns afloat, and business spending is escalating, posting an average annualized gain of 7.2 percent in the first quarter. In addition, strong productivity increases