March 26 - Summary of business headlines: S&P 500 remains in striking distance of a new record; homebuilder stocks rise on home data; durable goods orders rise; consumer confidence falls; Cyprus jitters remain. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Another day, another near miss for the S&P 500- still striving for a new record high. Stocks did manage solid gains- the three major U.S. indexes all closing in the black. Helping drive the S&P 500: Netflix. Shares surged after Pacific Crest raised its price target to $225. Encouraging news on the home front: U.S. single family home prices rose in January- at the fastest pace in more than six years, according to the S&P Case Shiller index. S&P Dow Jones Indices' David Blitzer: SOUNDBITE: DAVID BLITZER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CHAIRMAN OF THE INDEX COMMITTEE, S&P DOW JONES INDICES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is not just one or two cities. It's not just the Sunbelt reviving itself. It is really across the country. All 20 cities were up over the last 12 months, which we haven't seen in quite a while. So, it's broad based. Among the factors: people are more comfortable buying houses, they are more confident about the idea of buying a house because the economy is improving somewhat, unemployment is down a bit; obviously we'd like it to be down a whole lot more. Interest rates remain very low." A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the median sales price for a new home was up three percent to $246,800- though the pace of sales fell because of low inventories. The Commerce Department also reported that sales of durable goods- surged in February by 5.7 percent. But U.S. consumer confidence fell in March. The Conference Board said Americans were pessimistic about the job market outlook- and were concerned about the impact of the recent automatic government spending cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the month. In Europe, while the implications of the Cyprus bailout remain unclear, stocks moved higher- focusing on the encouraging news from the U.S. about the housing market and durable goods sales.