If the housing bust has you down, don’t try taking comfort in the state of spending on goods and equipment by businesses.

This important indicator of the health of the U.S. economy fell into negative territory in the fourth quarter of 2006. Economists now predict real investment growth by companies of only 2 percent to 4 percent for 2007 — a yawner at best. Richard Berner, chief U.S. economist for Morgan Stanley, last month labeled business investment as the “biggest wildcard for the economic and inflation outlook.”

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