WASHINGTON -- President-elect Bill Clinton yesterday sought to reassure financial markets that he remains committed to reducing the federal budget deficit, but he also said he will ask Congress to approve a short-term economic plan to spur growth.

The comments, made in Little Rock during Clinton's first news conference since the election, seemed to indicate he will pursue a middle course on economic policy as he seeks to fulfill campaign promises for creating jobs while trying to retain the confidence of a nervous bond market.

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