President Clinton took time out from a round of golf Thursday to cheer the latest U.S. economic indicators and said it shows Americans were taking control of their destiny.

It was day two of the Clinton's annual New Year's Renaissance Weekend getaway to the island resort. More than 300 invited families gather in Hilton Head to share ideas, opinions and experiences "with the intention of personal and national renewal," according to the hosts.Clinton went for a morning jog wearing his newly acquired University of Arkansas basketball team warm-up suit and later attended a Renaissance panel discussion called "Risking Peace: Bosnia and the Middle East, and What Remains of the New World Order."

But Clinton ducked out of the discussion after an hour and 15 minutes, chosing a round of golf at the Arthur Hill course, where a sign warns patrons: "Be careful. Snakes and alligators are common."

Clinton shot an 87, and when asked by reporters how his golf game was, the President said, "I did fine. It was a good game."

The Clintons, who are staying in a private $2.4 million oceanside home, later dined at the home of tennis star Stan Smith.

Before teeing off, Clinton issued a statement through a spokesman lauding the improving economy. It was the second consecutive day that Clinton was able to cheer positive economic news.

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"The American people are taking control of their economic destiny," Clinton said.

New-home sales, buoyed by the strongest demand in the West since the 1970s, climbed to their highest level in 7 years during November, the government said Thursday, as buyers hurried to beat rising interest rates.

Sales of single-family homes rose 11.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 807,000 units, increasing in all regions of the country except the Northeast, the Commerce Department said. "This shows the result of low interest rates, low inflation, bringing the deficit down, and increasing investment. People are getting more optimistic about the future," Clinton said.

In another report equally favorable on the economy, the government said the number of jobless Americans filing for unemployment insurance benefits plunged the week ending Christmas Day to a nearly five-year low.

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