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A Week's Worth

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• Not too hot? The Wall Street set may have grumbled about last quarter's 4 percent growth, especially after the third quarter's sizzling 8.2 percent pace. US markets were down slightly last week. But economists note the stage is set for a solid 2004. Consumer confidence in January rose to its highest level since 2000, according to the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index. And the Purchasing Management Association of Chicago's index of area business activity rose to its highest level since 1994.

• Values rising: In 2003, better than two-thirds of the nation's largest socially and environmentally responsible mutual funds earned top ratings from either Morningstar or Lipper, says the Social Investment Forum.

• What's a truck? In New York City, it may be your SUV. Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette wants to confine nearly two dozen of the heaviest SUVs to truck routes, saying their girth makes them subject to the same weight-based safety standards as commercial trucks. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration already classifies most sport utility vehicles as light trucks when gauging fuel efficiency.

• Two dishwashers: It's a feature in a quarter of new $1 million-plus homes, estimates Linnette Edwards of online brokerage zip.Realty. One reason: People take clean dishes from one washer for mealtimes and load them into the other when they're done. Then they never have to put dishes away. Also popular: bathrooms with a floor drain. To clean the floor, aim the movable shower head and spray.


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