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February 26, 2013 09:53 AM

Tuesday Midday Business Brief

  • Strong earnings reports from Home Depot and Macy's are helping to lift stock indexes in early trading on Wall Street. The Dow is coming off its worst fall in three months, dropping 216 points yesterday. The S&P 500 fell below 1,500 yesterday for the first time in three weeks.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is telling Congress that the Fed's low interest-rate policies are providing key support for an economy still struggling with high unemployment, and he's signaling that the efforts to keep borrowing costs low will continue. He acknowledges that the Fed's aggressive program to buy Treasurys and mortgage bonds could eventually ignite inflation or unsettle investors, but says those risks are contained for now.
  • There's fresh evidence today that the housing recovery is accelerating. The Commerce Department says new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to the highest level since July 2008. The percentage increase was the largest in nearly 20 years.
  • A measure of U.S. home prices rose at a healthy pace in December compared with a year ago. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.8 percent in December compared with the same month a year ago. That's up from a 5.5 percent annual gain in November. Nationwide, prices rose 7.3 percent in 2012.
  • Americans' confidence in the economy has rebounded in February, following three straight months of declines. The Conference Board puts its Consumer Confidence Index at 69.6, up from a revised 58.4 in January. It's the highest reading since November's 71.5.

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