National

Nov 2, 2009 4:46 PM by Associated Press

Trio of strong economic reports lift hopes for recovery

A trio of better-than-expected economic reports are boosting hopes for the fledgling economic recovery.

A closely followed private sector gauge of manufacturing activity is showing growth. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index read 55.7 last month, compared with 52.6 in September. It's the third straight reading above 50, which indicates growth.

The Commerce Department says that construction spending was up 0.8 percent in September, powered by the largest jump in housing construction in more than six years. Analysts had forecast a 0.3 percent drop. And the National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements rose 6.1 percent from August to 110.1. That's the eighth straight monthly gain and the highest reading since December 2006.

It's more than 21 percent above a year ago. Meanwhile, Ford is reporting a third-quarter profit of nearly $1 billion dollars. The automaker says cost cuts, the Cash for Clunkers program and market share gains all helped boost earnings. Ford is also forecasting a "solidly profitable" 2011.

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