A Week's Worth

Notching up: Although the Federal Reserve nudged up interest rates to 2.25 percent - the fifth boost this year - inflation doesn't seem tamer. The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent last month. That's not particularly high for the short term, but it means that for the first 11 months of the year, inflation has risen at a 3.7 percent annual rate. That's almost twice last year's 1.9 percent rise. Rising interest rates also are sapping home construction, with housing starts last month registering their biggest drop in nearly 11 years.

Fake insurance: Bogus policies are on the rise - having ensnared more than 200,000 policyholders between 2000 and 2002. But most people (74 percent) are oblivious to the threat, says the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The group is urging consumers to check out companies with their state insurance department before they buy their insurance.

A moderate 2005: Investors can expect to earn about 8.3 percent on their stocks next year, which is a little below the long-term average, predict analysts at Standard & Poor's. The best sector to put your money in may be large-company growth stocks. A poll by Russell Investment Group found that investment managers were bullish on the sector, by a 3-to-2 margin.

Better work next year? More than half of workers surveyed have never made a career-focused New Year's resolution, according to Accountemps, the staffing agency. Last year, 85 percent did not make such a resolution.

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