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The morning commute is clear yet icy - snow expected later in the day
Although the Inland Northwest economy continues to grow, it remains a soft spot in an otherwise vigorous region. When government economists representing the four Northwest states, as well as Alberta and British Columbia, presented their forecasts for 1997 in Spokane last week, the presentations offered an almost uniform picture of ongoing - although, in some cases, moderating - economic strength.
For a rodent billed as the "seer of seers," Punxsutawney Phil's track record isn't great. The groundhog guru has properly prognosticated only three of the last six winters, at least for western Pennsylvania.
Business leaders ended 1996 more confident than at the end of the third quarter but plan to push prices higher, suggesting inflation may increase, a new survey shows. Almost 30 percent of chief executives surveyed expect price increases of more than 6 percent this year, the Conference Board said Monday. About 60 percent expect to raise prices up to 5 percent, up from the almost 50 percent who said so in the final quarter of 1995.
U.S. retailers, after enduring less-than-robust holiday sales, aren't likely to see better times this year, though bargain stores and those that sell basic goods may continue to see stronger sales growth. Retailers have had back-to-back slow Decembers, with stores open more than a year reporting a 5.2 percent increase in 1996 over the previous year after reporting a 2 percent gain in 1995. That was one of the slimmest gains in decades for a year without a recession. "The sluggish spending environment will continue into early 1997," said retail analyst Richard Nelson.