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Economic news hints at recession

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The latest economic news may bring the "R" word to mind. While few say we are in a recession now, everyone agrees we ought to try heading one off. Just when you thought the financial news couldn't get any worse -- the symptoms of an ailing economy are intensifying. Conrad Dequadros with Bear Stearns said, "There are some conflicting signs right now; my feeling is we are not in a recession; we are in a slow growth environment; our feeling is we will skirt recession perhaps narrowly." Unemployment is up, consumer confidence low. Credit is crunched, the housing market slumped and pains at the pump and grocery store persist. To make matters worse the Federal Reserve says output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities showed no growth in December -- triggering the biggest unemployment jump since 2001. Dequadros said, "What is needed now in the financial industry is capital." Capital that JP Morgan and Wells Fargo desperately need. Both banks said today their profits dropped over 30 percent, and chip-maker Intel reported earnings today below expectations - more bad news for the market. Along with the Federal Reserve, congress is trying to do their part to ease the impact of a recession. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, "I think the economy is the number one issue facing this country. People are really worried, even people who haven't been affected. People are worried about the future." A timely, targeted and temporary stimulus package -- that's what Democrats are pushing to quickly circulate money into the economy -- possibly costing between $50 billion and $150 billion. During his State of the Union address on January 28 the president is expected to announce how he plans to revive the economy.

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