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A Week's Worth

• No pep yet: America's job-creation economy isn't humming. Last month it added 112,000 new jobs, the most in three years but fewer than economists expected. They project the US will have to add 150,000 jobs a month just to match the growth in the workforce and keep the unemployment rate from rising. The Labor Department did revise December's job gain from 1,000 to 16,000. Meanwhile, corporate profits keep improving. Quarterly results released so far have averaged year-over-year earnings growth of about 22 percent, beating Wall Street's average estimates by about 5 percent, according to Ozan Akcin, chief market strategist at Puglisi & Co.

• Cheaper gas ahead? World oil prices and US gasoline futures fell last week on expectations that oil imports might go up. Traders will be closely watching OPEC, which meets in Algiers Tuesday to discuss output. The cartel's president said he was seeking a gradual drop in the oil price. US crude oil stocks are only slightly above 28-year lows.

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• House party: More American families than ever - 72.6 million - now own their own home, according to census data. The homeownership rate stands at a record 68.6 percent.

• Bank notes: Your neighborhood bank may have a friendly face but it doesn't tell you everything, according to a recent article by Bankrate.com. For example: Tellers get a fee for steering customers to their investment products; banks really don't mind if you bounce checks (as long as there's no fraud involved) because they make money off the fees; bank robberies happen often - at the rate of about one every 52 minutes.

• Thinking local: Why do Americans - and South Africans - buy an inordinate number of domestic stocks compared with, say, Europeans? One reason is patriotism, according to a study by two University of Michigan doctoral students. Using data on 33 countries, they found that big flag-waving nations hold smaller foreign equity positions than other areas of the world.


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