And there has been a flurry of other hopeful signs lately. Homebuilders broke ground on new homes last year at the fastest pace in four years. Sales of autos, the second-biggest consumer purchase, are at a five-year high.If recent history is any guide, this economic expansion is still young. The expansion that began in June 2009 is 44 months old. The previous three expansions lasted 73 months, 120 months and 92 months. Corporate earnings grow in expansions, which can push stocks higher.
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