Reports: US Economy Gains Some Strength

​Economic reports published Thursday show improvements in the U.S. housing and job markets.

​A trade group says strong demand for houses pushed prices up more than 12 percent over the past year. The National Association of Realtors says that is the biggest price gain in more than seven years.

Severe problems in the housing market played a key role in the economic crisis, which prompted a wave of layoffs and boosted the unemployment rate.

The Labor Department says that has changed. The …

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