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  Wall St Week Ahead-Investors gauge economy in storms' wake

    With U.S. stocks holding up well in the wake of a pair of devastating storms that hammered the U.S. Gulf Coast, investors are bracing for a wave of potentially bleak economic data next week. But they're not worried. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 index closed out the third quarter with a 3.2 percent gain, as investors breathed a sigh of relief that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- while human tragedies -- did not deliver a knockout blow to the U.S. energy supply. Strategists are prepared for some grim numbers in reports on employment, consumer spending and factory activity, as the immediate effects of the storms' disruptions become clear. But they said investors have already priced the fallout into stocks and will be looking for details on the overall direction of the economy, which they believe remains on sound footing.
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