USA

Americans saved more of their income last month while the factory sector of the economy picked up sharply, two new federal reports said. The Commerce Department said personal income rose 0.3 percent in November, on top of a 0.6 percent increase the month before. Spending, meanwhile, dipped from 0.8 percent in October, to 0.2 percent. Adjusted for inflation, economists said, that meant spending essentially was flat in November. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of all economic activity. Factory orders rose a sharper-than-predicted 1.6 percent - the most impressive gain in four months - led by demand for cars and other transportation-related items.

A white Christmas was all but guaranteed for much of the US as a massive snow storm blanketed Western and Midwestern states and parts of the South. The National Weather Service said residents in those areas also should brace for frigid temperatures, and motorists expecting to take long trips over the holiday weekend were advised to pack emergency supplies in their vehicles in case they became stranded.

Advocates for Mexican immigrants vowed to appeal a federal court decision upholding the new Arizona law that mandates withholding government benefits to persons crossing the border illegally. In Tucson, US District Judge David Bury said no "irreparable harm" would be caused by lifting his own restraining order, imposed last month after opponents challenged Proposition 200 on grounds that it usurps federal authority over immigration.

Democrat Christine Gregoire took over the lead in Washington's disputed gubernatorial race and appeared headed for certain victory after the state Supreme Court ordered that hundreds of ballots discovered well after the Nov. 2 election must be counted. The ballots all are from heavily Democratic King County. Even before that ruling, a manual recount of ballots that was requested by Democrats put Gregoire 10 votes ahead of Republican Dino Rossi, who had appeared narrowly to have won the election and a machine recount.

The search for five crewmen whose scallop boat sank off Nantucket, Mass., was called off by the Coast Guard. Only one man was rescued after the Northern Edge capsized Monday. The loss of life was the worst involving a single vessel in New England since 1991, when six men died in the incident that became the basis for the movie, "The Perfect Storm."

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