AP FILE Photo
In this Sept. 17 photo, job applicants wait for the opening of a job fair held by National Career Fairs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A spate of data released Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, painted a mixed picture of the U.S. economy. Demand for long-lasting manufactured goods fell and slightly fewer people signed contracts to buy homes. At the same time, the job market looked a little better. Taken together, the reports suggest the economy is growing only modestly and not quickly enough to spur much hiring.