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Obama to outline state of economy in speech today


Apr 14, 9:09 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is juggling a glass-half-full take on the economy with a determination to not be seen as naive about problems still washing over the business landscape. The president is slated to give an economic speech Tuesday at Georgetown University as his administration nears its symbolic 100-day mark. Aides billed the address as major but acknowledged that it was expected to contain no significant policy announcements.

Rather, they said, the speech would outline the state of the economy when Obama took office in January, steps his administration has taken in its first three months, and what still needs to be done to right troubled sectors, including the housing, banking and financial industries.

“The president wants the opportunity to update the American people on where we are, what we have to do going forward, and lay out the steps that are being taken to help our economy recover,” said presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Hours before the speech, a cold dose of reality came in the form of a report saying retail sales fell unexpectedly in March, decreasing by 1.1 percent. That was the biggest decline in three months and a much weaker showing than the 0.3 percent increase that analysts expected. At the same time, wholesale prices dropped sharply last month as the cost of gasoline and other energy plummeted, fresh evidence that inflation appears to pose little threat to the economy.

Tuesday’s indicators epitomized a continuing problem for government policymakers and ordinary people alike: How to figure out where the economy is headed amid such often contradictory business signals.

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