WRAPUP 1-US consumer confidence rebounds, home prices rise

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, March 30 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. consumer confidence
rebounded in March while a closely watched housing index showed
home prices rose in January for the eighth straight month,
bolstering hopes for a sustainable economic recovery.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of
consumer attitudes rose to 52.5 in March from an upwardly
revised 46.4 in February, driven by a slight increase in
optimism about the labor market.

The median of forecasts from analysts polled by Reuters was
for a March reading of 50.0.

The expectations index rose to 70.2, from a revised 62.9.
The present situation index rose to 26.0, the most since May
2009, up from a revised 21.7 in February.

Consumers’ labor market assessment improved. The “jobs hard
to get” index declined to 45.8 from 47.3 percent, while the
“jobs plentiful” index increased to 4.4 percent from 4.0
percent.

Stocks on Wall Street held gains after the consumer
confidence data. U.S. Treasury prices and the euro pared
losses.

This consumer report will “add credence to the economic
recovery school of thought,” said Jim Awad, managing director
at Zephyr Management in New York. “Its logical that with the
economy improving and stocks going up consumer confidence would
improve. The real question is what happens next year after the
stimulus is removed, but in the short-term this is good news.”

Separately, Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price
indexes showed prices of U.S. single-family homes rose in
January, with the annual rate moving the closest it has been to
an increase in three years.

The S&P composite index of 20 metropolitan areas
unexpectedly rose by 0.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, matching
the December increase.

On an unadjusted basis, prices declined 0.4 percent in
January. S&P has said that foreclosures can skew the seasonal
adjustments.

A 0.3 percent drop for the adjusted and a 0.2 percent
decline for the unadjusted index were the median forecasts from
Reuters surveys.

“It looks like there is an underlying recovery in house
prices going on. The numbers are in line with market
expectations and a bit stronger than my expectations and I
would say, broadly speaking, this is quite encouraging for the
housing market,” said David Sloan, economist with 4CAST Ltd in
New York.

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(Additional reporting by Lynn Adler, John Parry, Chris
Reese and Ryan Vlastelica)
(Editing by Theodore d’Afflisio)

WRAPUP 1-US consumer confidence rebounds, home prices rise