Business: More Signals on the Slowdown

Aside from the slumping stock averages, the signals on the economy's health last week were mixed. On the bright side, the University of Michigan's quarterly Survey of Consumer Attitudes found a "very favorable" outlook for the kind of open-wallet spending needed to continue the recovery. For the first tune in three years, in fact, a majority of the families polled thought it was a favorable time to buy big-ticket household items like furniture, refrigerators and TV sets. Yet other key indicators suggested continued economic softness. In September, retail sales rose an almost imperceptible .1% over August. Higher spending on farm equipment...