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Positive economic indicators

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WASHINGTON (ABC)-- Remarkable economic news Tuesday morning: the Dow is at a level not seen since 2008. Economists are asking whether it's the latest sign of an economic rebound or just a fluke?

Is it a sign that good times are here again? The Dow industrials closed above 11,000 Monday for the first time in a year and a half.

There are those economic indicators that are indisputable.  According to the Labor Department, employers added 162,000 jobs, the largest gain in three years.  

Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics says, "Hours being worked per week by your average production worker is on its up; hiring and temporary employment is on its way up; these are all indicators that the labor market is going to strengthen over the course of this year."

And some would argue the stock market is merely a reflection of this good news: strengthening retail sales, five months of increasing consumer spending, and higher orders for durable goods.  Even auto sales rose 37 percent in March, and that was without the Cash-for-Clunkers incentive.

Charles Herman, ABC News Business Editor, says,"The stock market can often be an indicator for the average American of how the economy is doing. "I might be more willing to go out and spend some money." When they spend that gets the economy going and employers hiring and the stock market going up even more."

So while the economy may be showing signs of life, there remains plenty of hazards:  still too many bad mortgages in the housing market and still too much government borrowing.

Thornberg says, "Watch out, because we're not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination."

And there is this piece of discouraging news: as the economy picks up, so will interest rates, which will impact an individual and a small business's ability to borrow.

Online Reporter: Jill Courtney

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