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Expectations are rising for a stronger US economy in 2014 after reports Thursday showed solid growth in manufacturing and construction spending at the end of last year.
Factory activity in December stayed near a 2½ -year high. Americans are buying more cars and homes, increasing demand for steel, furniture, and other manufactured goods. Manufacturers have boosted hiring to meet that demand and may add jobs at a healthier pace this year.
Also, builders stepped up spending on home construction in November, despite recent increases in borrowing rates. That suggests many remain confident in the housing recovery.