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Summary Box: Job openings rise to most in 2 years

BRIGHTER OUTLOOK: Employers in February posted the largest number of job openings in more than two years, the government said Wednesday. And retail sales rose in March for the ninth straight month, a separate report said. The data suggests greater consumer spending is giving companies more confidence to hire.

BRIGHTER OUTLOOK: Employers in February posted the largest number of job openings in more than two years, the government said Wednesday. And retail sales rose in March for the ninth straight month, a separate report said. The data suggests greater consumer spending is giving companies more confidence to hire.

DARK CLOUD: Still, rising gas prices will likely crimp consumers' ability to spend, economists say, slowing economic growth.

HIRING CRITICAL: More jobs, however, would mean more income to consumers, enabling them to overcome that barrier. Most economists expect higher gas prices will slow, but not derail, economic growth.

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