STATE OF BUSINESS: Sounds of Boom

The rosy statistics generated by the vigorous U.S. economy last week no longer spelled mere recovery. They gave every indication that the U.S. is in another boom. Items:

¶ Construction contracts in March soared 23% above a year ago to reach a new record for the month. Biggest gain: single-family houses, which went up 49% above a year ago. Apartment units also registered a sharp gain.

¶ U.S. department store sales rose 6% over the same week last year, are already up 8% for this year so far.

¶ The nation's steel companies continued their record-setting production pace, operating at 94.8%...

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