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Investing Specialists

A Creeping Sense of Optimism?

Continued slow improvement points to a better--but not robust--2012.

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While the stock market continued to crumble this week under the weight of the European situation, the U.S. economy turned in one of its better performances of the year. Retail sales continued to grow at a moderate but steady rate, prices fell, housing showed signs of life, and even the manufacturing industry seems to be recovering from its summer slumber. Initial unemployment claims managed to continue their slow but steady decline of the last two months, bolstering the employment outlook in the months ahead. If only Europe could get its act together.

The consensus seems to finally have come to the conclusion that the U.S. economy will not double dip. But nobody--including me--is willing to go out on a limb to project a very robust 2012. High debt, a poor housing market, lack of consumer confidence, high unemployment--we have all heard about the stumbling blocks. But is there anything at all that could surprise dour economists on the upside?

Robert Johnson, CFA does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.