HIRING OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS: The economy is off to a fast start in 2012. The outlook for hiring has brightened as applications for unemployment benefits near a four-year low.
INFLATION TAME: Consumer prices were flat in December for the second straight month. That gives consumers more spending power and allows the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low.
OTHER GOOD SIGNS: Business travel is higher and banks are lending more to businesses. Economists are optimistic, though they caution that it is too early to say if the recovery is accelerating.