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Morning Market Roundup: Euro Bank Call to Action, Home Prices Up, Consumer Confidence Up?


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

Consumer Confidence: A private group says U.S. consumer confidence jumped this month to the highest level since February, bolstered by a brighter hiring outlook.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 70.3. That's up from 61.3 in August, which was revised higher. And it's the highest reading since February, when the economy added 259,000 jobs. The reading is still below 90, a level that indicates a healthy economy. Since the beginning of the year, the index has fluctuated sharply.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 1 through Sept. 13. It showed consumers were more optimistic about the current availability of jobs and their outlook over the next six months.

Home Prices: Home prices kept rising in July across the United States, buoyed by greater sales and fewer foreclosures.

National home prices increased 1.2 percent in July, compared to the same month last year, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index released Tuesday. That's the second straight year-over-year gain after two years without one.

The report also says prices rose in July from June in all 20 cities tracked by the index. That's the third straight month in which prices rose in every city.

Steady price increases and record-low mortgage rates are helping drive a housing recovery.

In the 12 months ending in July, prices have risen in 16 of 20 cities. In Phoenix, one of the cities hardest hit by the housing bust, prices are up 16.6 percent in that stretch. Prices in Minneapolis and Detroit have risen more than 6 percent.

Home prices are still 30 percent below their peak in June 2006, according to Case-Shiller. That was the height of the housing boom.

EU: The head of the European Central Bank is insisting that measures the bank is taking to alleviate the debt crisis can only "build a bridge" to a better future and it's up to governments to take decisive action.

Speaking to an industry conference in Berlin, Mario Draghi on Tuesday underlined the bank's commitment to its mandate of fighting inflation.

The ECB recently unveiled a plan to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds to help lower borrowing costs for struggling countries - a drive that met with skepticism in Germany and is opposed by the country's central bank chief.

Draghi says the ECB acted to address "unfounded fears about the euro area that were affecting our ability to ensure price stability."

Stocks: Encouraging reports on the housing market and consumer confidence gave the stock market a nudge in early Tuesday trading.

The closely watched Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index of national house prices increased 1.2 percent in July compared with the same month in 2011. Prices rose from June in all 20 major cities tracked by the report. It's the third straight month that prices rose in every city.

A half-hour after the opening bell, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 52 points to 13,610. Home Depot led the 30 stocks in the Dow, gaining 1 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added five points to 1,462.

In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index added 10 points to 3,170. Google's stock touched an all-time high in early trading, clearing $758.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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