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AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsWhile appraising the situation, economist Jack Kyser borrowed a line from Charles Dickens and proclaimed “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” “There’s a lot of good news here, but we keep getting jabbed in the ribs,” said Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “The gas prices, the housing news, national worries, it’s always something.” As the economic engine struggles toward high gear, reality keeps stomping down on the brakes. Both nationally and in Southern California, the economic picture looks muddled. Gasoline prices of $3.399 per gallon hover near record levels in Los Angeles. Inflation in Southern California has climbed at a faster rate than the national number over the previous year. Even the once-bulletproof housing market, the source of so much prosperity for everyday people in recent years, now looks weak. On Wednesday, the stock market tanked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging 214.28 points to close at 11,205.61, the biggest single-day loss in three years. A trade group released data showing a continued slowdown in the housing market. The Consumer Price Index leapt up 0.6 percent, its biggest increase in three months. Oddly, all this comes at the same time the economy looks great. Job seekers find a market with nearly full employment, gross domestic product zoomed forward 4.8 percent in the first quarter and, prior to its recent plunge, the Dow neared its all-time high last week. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!