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SMALL GAINS ACHIEVED

Attitudes: An Associated Press-GfK poll shows that more than twoout of five people believe the U.S. economy will get better, while a third think it will stay the same and nearly a fourth think it will get worse, a rebound from last month's pessimism.

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Mortgages: Rates hit lows for the year - a 30-year at an average fixed rate of 4.63 percent and a 15-year at 3.82 percent - according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. That's the lowest average rate in five months.Still, analysts think a glut of foreclosures will restrain the market.

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Wholesale: Companies paid 0.7 percent more for raw materials and factory goods in April, mostly because energy prices jumped. Without food and energy categories, the core index increased only 0.3 percent, the same as March.

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Food: Grocery stores sales receipts jumped 1.5 percent in April, according to the retail sales data. That's triple the March increase and a reflection of higher prices.

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Retail: More expensive gas drove retail sales receipts up 0.5 percent in April, the 10th straight month of gains. But excluding gas sales, the increase was only 0.2 percent.

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Jobs: Companies have added 250,000 jobs each month, on average, in the past three months, the biggest hiring spree in five years. Still, the unemployment rate is 9 percent.

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Jobless claims:The number of people seeking unemployment benefits plummeted 44,000 to 434,000 last week, the Labor Department said, the biggest weekly drop since February 2010. Florida's tally fell by 2,156, due to fewer layoffs in trade, services, manufacturing and agriculture.

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401(k)s: Average balances of 401(k) retirement plans rose to $74,900 as of March 31, an increase of almost 12 percent from last year and the highest level since 1998, says Fidelity, the largest provider of 401(k)s.

Overall: The overall economy grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, weaker than the 3.1 percent growth in the previous quarter.

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