A Week's Worth

Lackluster: The economy grew 3.7 percent in the third quarter, a reasonable spurt but less than the 4.3 percent rise in gross domestic product that analysts expected. One explanation: high oil prices.

Investing rebound: Mutual-fund ownership is rising again. Nearly half of American households (48.1 percent) own mutual funds, according to the Investment Company Institute. That's above last year but still below the 2001 peak of 52 percent. And the amount saved - a median balance of $48,000 - won't fund a very rosy retirement. Still, mutual-fund investors appear to be taking a healthy long-term approach to their retirement portfolios.

Don't bounce that check! By one estimate, consumers will bounce nearly 7 million more checks per month - and pay an extra $170 million in fees - because of new federal regulations that went into effect last Thursday. Known as Check 21, the new system lets banks and other financial institutions exchange electronic images of checks rather than the checks themselves. That means even fewer customers will get their original checks back. It also means that checks are likely to clear faster than before. So don't write a check unless you know the funds are in the bank.

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