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Late comedian George Carlin’s classic weatherman routine stated the obvious in meteorological terms: “Tonight’s forecast: Dark. Continued dark throughout most of the evening, with some widely scattered light toward morning.”

The same can be said about the economy. Some key indicators suggest scattered light: slowly rising home sales and values, increased car sales spurred by the federal “cash for clunkers” program, a slowdown in mass layoffs. On a macro scale, the Federal Reserve is slowing down its purchase of $300 billion in Treasury securities, which helped keep rates low on mortgages and other loans.

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