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Forecaster Optimistic About U.S. Economy

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The U.S. housing market is slowing, especially on the East and West coasts, but not enough to do much damage to stock prices this year.

Robert Doll, chief investment officer of global equities at BlackRock Inc., New York, gave that assessment today during a teleconference.

Weakness in the housing market and industries that support the housing market could slow growth in the U.S. economy to 2% to 2.5% this year, Doll predicted.

But economic growth outside the United States remains strong, inflation concerns are muted, earnings are going up, and cash flow and liquidity levels are good, Doll said.

Stock prices should experience another good year, Doll said.

Although an increase in mortgage defaults is “almost inevitable,” that is partly because the mortgage default rate started at “pretty low levels,” Doll said.

Doll also talked about the share of U.S. gross domestic product going to health care.

The percentage has traditionally increased as the U.S. standard of living has increased, Doll said.

Restricting growth in the share of GDP going to health care too aggressively could hurt the U.S. standard of living, Doll said.