Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
Stock indices finished higher in a holiday-shortened week. Reports seem to confirm the nation's economy is slowing and many in the investment community are beginning to think the worst may be over, and are cautiously reentering the market.
Retail sales slowed last month, but inventories of unsold goods held by businesses registered the biggest drop in almost five years. The hope is any spurt in consumer interest will ignite the economy. The investment community hopes the spark will come in the form of lower interest rates.
As for Rural Americans, many are simply too busy coping with the natural world to worry about the financial.
"It's deje vu all over again" for residents along much of the North Dakota-Minnesota border besieged by the flooding of the Red River -- an experience they dealt with just three years ago.
The river, which flows north to Canada, routinely spills its banks in springtime, but flooding is worse this year. Last weekend's heavy rains melted the snow and the already saturated frozen ground from last fall's rains couldn't absorb any more moisture.
(Slug prayer service at river)
A prayer service by the river … and hundreds of volunteers sandbagging … have the townspeople feeling better prepared than during the flood of 1997.
Preparation of a different sort needs to occur in the Central Valley of California.
California officials warn that water runoff forecasts have fallen to 55 percent of normal. Full reservoirs from six previous years will meet most of the state's non-agricultural water needs … but localized shortages may occur in parts of the Central Valley, which fields most of the state's $27 (B) billion a year agriculture sector.