Jobs Report Suggests Sunnier Outlook for 2012

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Weekly jobless aid applications dropped further last week, according to the latest Labor Department report.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, 11 percent lower than last year.

The three-month run of declines suggests stronger hiring in 2012 and is just one of several signs that the economy is picking up speed.

The Associated Press reported that holiday sales were strong, consumer confidence rose to the highest level since April, and November and December were the strongest months of 2011 for auto sales.

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