A Week's Worth

• New signs of revival: Orders to factories for costly manufactured goods, such as cars and machinery, rose by a strong 3.4 percent last month, five times what economists had forecast. The surge followed an even better February jump of 3.8 percent. The news echoed the upbeat assessments of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Stock prices haven't soared because investors still worry that growth will boost interest rates. But the markets managed to push back into positive territory for the year.

• Recruits: Which is more important to companies when they want to hire college grads - the right major or the right school? According to a survey of some 500 firms by CollegeGrad.com, the right major for the job was the most important qualification for new hires, followed by their skills in handling interviews and their work experience. A degree from, say, Harvard or Stanford ranked only sixth, behind grade-point average and even "miscellaneous qualifications."

• What employers give: Companies that offer benefits to their low-wage workers find that this helps them attract and retain employees and boosts worker productivity, according to a study of 15 firms by the Center for Work & Family at Boston College.

• She's worth it! Moms are pricey, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumers it surveyed said they plan to spend an average of $98.64 for Mother's Day next month. The total amounts to about $10.4 billion worth of recognition - roughly the total annual output of the nation of Chad.

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