WASHINGTON (AP) — Tropical Storm Irene's trek up the East Coast caused less damage than many had feared, a bit of reassuring news for a fragile economy.

Insured damages from the storm will likely range between $2 billion and $3 billion, and total losses will likely be about $7 billion, according to preliminary estimates from Kinetic Analysis Corp., a consulting firm.

Both figures are lower than had been expected, suggesting that the storm poses little threat to the nation's $14 trillion economy. Some economists said that, as with past hurricanes and earthquakes, the recovery could end up boosting growth in the coming months. Demand for building repairs might help the depressed construction industry, for example.

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