House extends broad package of breaks

The House overwhelmingly approved dozens of business and individual tax breaks Wednesday, including credits for research and development, energy, college students and commuters.

The bill, which will allow taxpayers to claim the deductions on their 2014 tax returns, now needs approval from the Senate, which is likely to come next week.

The legislation that passed by a 378-to-46 vote was a far more modest measure than Republicans and Democrats had been discussing since the midterm elections. But both sides abandoned the more ambitious tax plan after the White House threatened to veto the effort because it did not do enough for the working poor.

Lori Montgomery

Fed survey finds solid growth

The U.S. economy kept expanding in October and November, helped by solid gains in consumer spending, manufacturing and overall employment, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of business conditions across the country.

The Fed survey found many areas of strength. For the first time this year, the report did not see a need to qualify its summary of growth by using words such as “modest” and “moderate.”

The Fed said business executives remain optimistic about the prospects for growth in 2015. The gains in economic activity were coming as overall inflation remained subdued although the report did find upward wage pressures for some skilled workers.

The report, known as the “beige book” for the color of its cover, will form the basis for discussion at the Fed’s final policymaking meeting of the year on Dec. 16-17.

Much of the optimism reflected reports of solid consumer spending, which the Fed said reflected in part the fact that gasoline prices have fallen, giving households more money to spend on other items. In addition, an early cold spell in parts of the country spurred sales of winter clothing.

The report said auto sales were particularly strong in the Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco districts. Manufacturing showed gains in most districts.

Home construction was mixed with only about half of the districts reporting increases in home sales. Employment gains were widespread across the country in October and November.

— Associated Press

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