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Morning Market Roundup: Home Prices up in Major Cities, Lexmark to Axe 1,700 Jobs, ECB Chief Skips Meeting

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

U.S. Home Prices: U.S. home prices rose in June from May in every city tracked by a leading index.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index showed increases in all of the 20 cities tracked for a second consecutive month. A measure of national prices rose 2.3 percent in June from May, the third straight increase. And home prices jumped nearly 7 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous quarter.

All but two cities in the national composite posted stronger gains in June than May. Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta recorded the biggest one-month gains.

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

Lexmark: Lexmark is cutting 1,700 jobs, or almost 13 percent of its workforce, and says it will stop making inkjet printers as part of a drive to cut costs as it deals with shrinking sales of inkjets.

The printer and software company said Tuesday that it will close its inkjet supply plant in the Philippines by the end of 2015. It is also putting its inkjet technology up for sale.

Lexmark had about 13,300 employees as of Dec. 31. Lexmark has been shifting its focus from consumer inkjet printers, focusing on higher-profit laser printers and supplies for businesses and software services.

The job cuts include about 1,100 manufacturing jobs. Lexmark says the moves will save it $85 million in 2013 and $95 million a year by 2015. It expects to book costs of $160 million over three years for the restructuring.

ECB Chief: European Central Bank head Mario Draghi has called off his trip to an annual Jackson Hole conference of central bankers this week due to a heavy workload as the bank works on its eagerly awaited plan to lower borrowing costs for struggling governments.

The ECB holds a key meeting Sept. 6 where plans to intervene in bond markets will be discussed. A spokesperson for the bank said Tuesday that Draghi decided not to go to the Wyoming meeting at the end of this week "because of the heavy workload foreseen in the next few days."

Draghi announced Aug. 2 that the ECB might help indebted governments lower their borrowing costs by buying their bonds - but only if the countries first ask for help from the region's bailout fund and agree to take steps to reduce their deficits and debt levels. He left key details blank and said committees of top bank officials would be working on them.

Futures: Stock futures were essentially flat with very little trading Tuesday as markets await any hint about the status of the economy from the Fed's annual meeting this week in Jackson Hole.

Monday was among the lightest trading days of the year and it appears that may be the trend for most of the week.

Dow Jones industrial futures slipped 9 points to 13,098. The broader S&P futures gave up 1.7 points to hit 1,406.60 and the Nasdaq futures fell 1.75 points to 2,781.

There are no major earnings reports or government economic data being released, leaving investors to speculate what U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might say during a much anticipated speech on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

One last thing…
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