Dec. 24 - In a short but sweet session for stocks, U.S. equities hit new record highs ahead of Christmas. Bobbi Rebell reports.
A quiet session on Christmas eve didn't stop stocks from setting new record highs in a holiday shortened session on Tuesday. Markets will be closed on Wednesday for Christmas. New data showed strength in the U.S. economy. Orders for durable goods surged 3.5 percent in November - better than forecasts. Separately, new home sales were strong, though they fell modestly from a five-year high in November. The data also showed home prices are still rising, and inventories are falling. Kevin Cummins of UBS: SOUNDBITE: KEVIN CUMMINS, ECONOMIST, UBS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the underlying fundamentals for the housing market are particularly encouraging. We saw better demand data. If you looked at housing starts or building permits from last week's reports, builders' optimism is also showing improving confidence among home builders." Consumer lawsuits piled up against Target after a massive data breach. The retailer's top lawyers spoke with state prosecutors on Monday, as the retailer and two U.S. senators called for a federal probe. Target's shares fell on the news. U.S. regulators fined American Express close to $60 million over deceptive and misleading practices in selling credit card add-on products like payment protection. Telemarketers led clients to believe the add-ons came with more favorable conditions than they really did, and charged too much for the services, regulators said. And things look so bad for the new Keanu Reves film "47 Ronin" that Universal Pictures is already taken writedowns for the expensive movie - ahead of its Christmas day release. The fantasy action film about a group of samurai in 18th century Japan cost $175 million to make, and is forecast to bring in just around $20 million in the five day Christmas Day holiday period. European stocks edged up on Tuesday, adding to the best run-in to Christmas since 1999, although trading in the shortened session was thin.