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A Rosy Economic Report Card

Escorted by his economic advisers to the rose garden Friday, President Clinton delivered a rosy economic report card, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

The president has plenty to brag about. Low interest rates have again sent new home sales to record levels. In addition, Americans continue to express their confidence with their wallets.

Economist Kenneth Goldstein said it will take more than a Lewinsky scandal to shake Americans' frothy mood. "Consumer confidence is at a 30 year high because unemployment is at a 40 year low," he said.

"It's almost like the American consumer is a stubborn mule. You would have to have an economic shock so strong it would like hitting a mule with a 2 by 4 over the head just to get its attention."

However, dark clouds in Asia cast their shadow across the gross domestic product numbers released Friday. The torrid 5.5% growth of the first quarter slowed dramatically in the 2nd.

"One of the reasons that growth moderated in the second quarter is because we are feeling the direct discernable effects of the Asian economic downturn," said President Clinton.

All the uncertainty over Asia has -- for the moment -- broken the bullish mood on Wall Street. The Dow closed down 143 points Friday.

Despite Friday's slide, the Dow Jones industrial average remains near record levels. However, in the broader market, the average stock on the New York exchange is in fact down almost 25% from its highs.

Reported by Anothony Mason
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