Morning Business Memo

The US economy may grow a bit faster next year if it isn't knocked off track by Europe's financial crisis. A new Associated Press survey of economists forecasts a slight improvement in 2012 - 2.4 percent compared with this year's 2 percent rise in output. But unemployment is likely to stay high - above 8 percent, say economists. The Wall Street Journal reports inflation is slowing after a surge earlier this year. That could give the Federal Reserve more room to boost growth.

The US stock market in 2011 has been a haven from the storm overseas. While the Dow and the S&P 500 averages are up slightly, most overseas markets are down for the year. Germany's DAX index has fallen 15 percent since January. In Shanghai, stocks are down to their lowest average in nearly three years with concerns about slower growth for China's economy. US futures rose this morning after the strongest four-day rise for stocks since September.

New reports are out today on home prices and consumer confidence. The Case Shiller index of the 20 largest US housing markets is likely to report another drop in average prices. But forecasts suggest the pace of declines will be slower than during the summer and early fall. Consumer confidence has been rising recently. Today's report from The Conference Board may point to continued improvement.

Many brick and mortar retailers probably had only a so-so holiday shopping season, but online sales continued to rise sharply. An IBM survey found that online shopping rose more than 16 percent on Christmas day over last year. The report  finds a huge increase in the number of consumers making purchases with their iPhones Android smart phones and iPads.

Richard Davies, Business Correspondent, ABC NEWS Radio

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