There are signs the economy is improving. The once-battered housing market is recovering, which should lead to more construction jobs this year. Companies ordered more long-lasting manufactured goods in November, a sign they are investing more in equipment and software. And Americans spent more in November. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic growth.

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AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report. Follow Chris Rugaber at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber

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