A Week's Worth

• Under way: The US economy is showing strong signs of life. It grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the first quarter. That robust pace, combined with a 0.4 percent boost in consumer spending last month, suggests that the economic recovery is on track. Jobless claims have also been falling. Even old-line industries are beginning to hire. Freight railroads, for example, expect to hire more than 80,000 new workers over the next six years.

• Those teflon funds: Despite the scandals surrounding mutual funds, investors don't seem worried. More than half of the 400 mutual fundholders surveyed by Spectrem Group showed a surprising lack of concern. Nearly a fifth said they didn't care about allegations of favoritism as long as their own returns were high. Some funds are accused of helping big clients in ways that cut profits for small investors.

• Home steep home: First-time homebuyers with average incomes can no longer afford the average house, according to a report by the Fannie Mae Foundation. Even more established median-income families, able to put 20 percent down, will no longer be able to finance the average home in 2007 - if interest rates and housing prices rise as expected, the report says.

• Makeover mania: What country spends more money on cosmetics than on consumer electronics? Russia, the makeup capital of Europe. If once Russian women reddened their cheeks with beet juice, today they spend 12 percent of their paychecks on lipstick, mascara, etc. - twice as much as their counterparts in Western Europe.

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