NEW YORK -- Is a turnaround in the making for the apparel business?

Factors say that since January, they've seen volume begin to grow among companies on their established client lists. Credit lses remain sticky with some retailers, but factors say they're encouraged by first-quarter results, particularly the momentum in March.

Economists join in the upbeat chorus. While financial circles reel with a gyrating stock market, fears of inflation and bumpy consumer confidence, economists say that while the general economy continues to recover, consumers -- whatever they tell pollsters about their state of mind -- should be buying more apparel.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Federal Reserve reported apparel production in March rebounded to its highest level since January 1993.

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