Recovery slow, but on track for steady gains

The economic recovery seems on track for slow but steady gains, after reports Tuesday showed growth in manufacturing activity, construction spending and contracts to buy homes. A private measure of manufacturing activity grew for the fourth straight month in November, though more slowly than in October. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said its index read 53.6, down from 55.7 in October. A reading above 50 indicates growth. Economists were especially encouraged that new orders — a gauge of future production — jumped in October. That suggested that manufacturing can continue to help sustain the budding recovery. A report on construction also signaled growth with the first increase in six months. The increase was just 0.04 percent. It reflected a rush by builders to begin work before the expiration of a tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

Comcast launches high-speed data

Comcast launched a high-speed wireless data service in Seattle today, part of the company’s nationwide unveiling of the Comcast High-Speed 2go product. It’s a fourth-generation (4G) wireless high-speed data service that provides Internet service via wireless data cards. The company plans to sell the service bundled with its Internet, phone and television products. “We think having the nation’s first and only 4G service bundled with some of the nation’s fastest Internet speeds will be a very compelling package for our Puget Sound area customers,” said Tom Pierce, a spokesman for Comcast’s Washington region.

Everett port to clear silted boat launch

The Port of Everett hopes to remove 32,000 cubic yards of silt from its boat-launching ramp off 10th Street this winter. Silt has filled the settling basin on the Snohomish River, spilling into the area near the ramp and requiring closure of some lanes. Officials still need to secure a permit for the work. If they don’t do so in time, the dredging work will have to wait until August to make sure it doesn’t harm young salmon as they migrate, said John Mohr, port director.

Staples executive upbeat on future

Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office supply retailer, provided an upbeat outlook Tuesday as it reported that its customers bought more school and office supplies and technology products in its stores in the third quarter. Staples North American retail sales rose 1 percent to $2.6 billion in the third quarter, the first rise in five quarters. But contract sales remained weak as small businesses are slow to recover from the recession. CEO Ron Sargent said the company is feeling “increasingly optimistic about the future” and predicted total sales will rise in the current quarter, which includes January, when many businesses start afresh with new budgets. He also expects a better holiday season than last year’s.

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