Keeping track ...

Existing home sales rose 2.7 percent in November, bolstered by a robust stock market, low mortgage rates, and somewhat steady consumer confidence. The National Association of Realtors estimates 4.78 million homes were sold in 1998, up a staggering 13.5 percent from 1997.

Consumer confidence dipped a bit in December. The New York-based Conference Board said Americans held a dim view about their 1999 job prospects.

Even so, the group's outlook for the US economy was upbeat. Its index of economic performance six to nine months from now increased 0.6 percent in November, the largest jump in nearly three years.

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