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There's also a reluctance to trim Social Security, Medicare or defense programs, three of the biggest drivers of federal spending, the survey released Wednesday found. The results could strengthen Obama's hand in his fiscal cliff duel with Republicans, in which he wants to raise taxes on the rich and cut spending by less than some GOP lawmakers want.

As Obama and Republicans joust over ways to avoid tumbling over the cliff when the new year begins, the poll offers scant evidence that the public is willing to sacrifice much when it comes to specific cuts in the name of budget austerity.

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Growth of US service firms accelerated last month

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. service companies grew at a slightly faster pace in November because sales and new orders rose, a good sign for the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 54.7 from 54.2 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. November's figure is above the 12-month average of 54.4.

The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health care and financial services firms. The industries covered employ about 90 percent of the workforce.

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US factory orders up 0.8 percent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Orders to U.S. factories rose modestly in October, helped by a big gain in demand for equipment that reflects business investment plans.

Factory orders edged up 0.8 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The increase slowed from a 4.5 percent jump in September.

Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a good proxy for business investment plans, increased 2.9 percent in October, the biggest increase in eight months. That represented an upward revision from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent. The increase came after big declines in the investment category this summer.

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