The single-family housing market improved slightly in the third quarter, according to Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp.'s national Market Trends Index.The index reading rose from 6.66 in the second quarter to 6.70 in the third, MGIC reported. The company looked at 73 metropolitan statistical areas and found eight to be strong, 11 weak, and the rest stable. "The U.S. economy grew at a steady rate as annual employment rose 1%, its strongest gain since 2001," said Neil Siegel, senior market analyst for the Milwaukee-based mortgage insurer. "However, cutbacks in the airline and auto industries, moderately higher interest rates, and rising energy costs could dampen the rate of economic growth." MGIC said a reading of 6 to 8 indicates a stable market. The company can be found on the Web at http://www.mgic.com.

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