Listen To The Story

SCOTT JAGOW: So we have one quarter to go in 2006. Lisa Napoli takes a look at how the economy might close out the year.

LISA NAPOLI: The last week of the third quarter saw the Dow zoom higher than it has in 11 years, and housing prices tank for the first time in 15 years. As the temperatures chill, the forecast for this fourth quarter is more good news / bad news.

MARK ZANDI: The econmy's gonna continue to expand . . .

That's Mark Zandi of

ZANDI: . . . growth is weak and will probably get a bit weaker as the year comes to a close.

Zandi says blame that weakness on housing, which will continue to drag down economic expansion. But, he says, most businesses couldn't be in better shape — with the exception, of course, of the automakers and some airlines.

As for the holiday season:

ZANDI: Christmas is gonna feel merry but we're not going to be singing those carols with as much gusto as we have the last few Christmases.

Zandi says expect sales to be up a sturdy 5 or 6 percent.

In New York, I'm Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

JAGOW: One industry that's looking at a holly, jolly Christmas is the travel biz. Travelocity says right now hotel occupancy rates are running 12 percent higher for Thanksgiving, 20 percent higher for Christmas compared to last year. Some analysts think airfares will drop even further by the holidays.