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Reports Indicate US Economy Improved in May - 2003-06-17


Three reports out Tuesday show the U.S. economy improved in May.

The Labor Department says overall consumer prices stayed the same last month, after declining in April. The core index, which removes volatile food and energy prices, rose for the first time in nine months. The news could ease concerns about falling prices - or deflation - which has paralyzed the Japanese economy.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department says new home construction jumped six percent last month - evidence the housing market remains strong. Most of the growth was in condominiums and apartments. The forward-looking indicator of building permits also rose close to four percent.

And the central bank says output at factories, mines and utilities turned around to post an increase, though it was only 0.1 percent. Still, the growth showed the manufacturing sector could be stabilizing.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President George W. Bush is hopeful the current signs of economic growth will continue to gather steam. But he said most indicators are still mixed, and Mr. Bush is hoping growth will pick up in the second half of the year.

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