STOCKS DOWN SLIGHTLY BUT ECONOMIC GROWTH BRISK

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The financial markets were relatively calm today as the Mexican currency situation seemed to stabilize and the market barely reacted to positive news on economic activity from the Commerce Department. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose just over six points to close at 3,833.43, while stocks on the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq rose slightly as well. More than 250 million shares were traded on e New York exchange. Nonetheless, the government reported today that its main gauge of economic activity rose 0.3 percent last month, the highest increase in the Index of Leading Indicators, since August. And the Labor Department said today that the number of people filing initial unemployment claims dropped by 3,000 this week, indicating ongoing health in the job marketplace.
TIME DAILY'S NEW YEAR'S WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT WATCH:Turned off by New Year's Eve Prix-Fixe restaurant scams? Don't want to watch Dick Clark and the ball drop in Times Square? Avoid the hype! One alternative from the editors of Time Daily: Curl up with a book. The following are reviews by TIME magazine editors of some current books:"Felicia's Way" (Viking; 213 pages; $21.95) by William Trevor. This psychologically complex story details the flight of an innocent Irish girl who is seduced and finds herself pregnant. Rather than deal with the shock of the family, she runs away to search for her lover and lands in a more dire predicament. The tale is a winner, says TIME reviewer Paul Gray. While this story has been told before, Trevor makes the flight seem "entirely original." The author "makes every one of his words matter.""Pale Blue Dot" (Random House; 429 pages; $35) by Carl Sagan. The ninth book by the famous astronomer is a grand tour of the universe that looks ahead to the time when space flight will carry humans from a dying Earth (the pale blue dot as viewed from space) to other worlds. Says TIME reviewer Leon Jaroff, "It is Sagan's optimistic vision, however, rather than any foreboding of apocalypse, that shines through every chapter of this handsomely illustrated book.""Eyes of a Child" (Knopf; 590 pages; $25) by Richard North Patterson. This thriller revolves around the death -- by murder or suicide -- of a character described by TIME reviewer Jack Skow as "a weak, charming, tirelessly manipulative man." The account of the ensuing investigation and court case proves that Patterson is "one of the best in the business," Skow writes.