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Morning Market Roundup: Fed to Buy More Bonds? Home Prices up, EU Unemployment All-Time High


Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

Fed Action: The Federal Reserve appears to be moving toward announcing some new step to try to energize the troubled U.S. economy.

Fed officials have signaled their concern about weakening job growth and consumer spending, which have brought the economy closer to a standstill. Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the Fed is prepared to take further action if unemployment stays high.

If the Fed does announce further bond buying, some think the purchases might be divided between Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities. Though at record lows, mortgage rates are still higher than rates on some other loans. Further declines in those rates could help fuel home sales.

The Fed meeting is one of three big events this week that investors and economists will pay close attention to. The European Central Bank meets on Thursday, and the U.S. Labor Department releases the July jobs report on Friday.

U.S Home Prices: Home prices rose in May from April in every city tracked by a leading index, a sign that increasing sales and tight inventories are supporting a modest housing recovery.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday showed increases in all of the 20 cities tracked. And a measure of national prices rose 2.2 percent from April to May, the second increase after seven months of flat or declining readings.

The increases partly reflect the impact of seasonal buying. The month-to-month prices aren't adjusted for seasonal factors.

In the past year, the 20-city price index has dropped 0.7 percent, the smallest decline since September 2010. That's much lower than the 1.8 percent year-over-year decline in April.

Consumer Spending: Americans spent no more in June than they did in May, even though their income grew at the fastest pace in three months.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that consumer spending was flat in June after declining 0.1 percent in May.

Income rose 0.5 percent. And wages, the largest component of income, also increased 0.5 percent, the biggest gain since March.

The jump in income went straight to savings. The savings rate rose to 4.4 percent in June, the highest level in a year.

EU & Unemployment: The number of people unemployed across the 17 countries that use the euro hit a record high in June, official figures showed Tuesday, in a stark reminder that Europe's debt crisis has ramifications beyond the financial markets.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said 17.801 million people were out of work in the eurozone in June. That was 123,000 more than May, and is the highest level since the euro was formed in 1999. The increase was the 14th in a row and means that around 2.25 million people have lost their jobs since April 2011.

Without Germany's relatively-low unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, the wider figures would be much worse. Even then, the eurozone unemployment is nearly three percentage points higher than the U.S.'s equivalent 8.2 percent.

U.S. Futures: U.S. stock futures moved higher Tuesday ahead of a two-day policy meeting at the Federal Reserve.

Markets have grown increasingly confident that the Fed will act again to kick-start the economy, but when it will do so is the topic of debate on Wall Street.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 24 points to 13,025 and the broader S&P futures added 2.8 points at 1,383.30. Nasdaq futures gained 10.25 points at 2,646.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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