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Jan. 23, 2013 at 2:47 PM   |   Comments

U.S. markets head higher

NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were mixed in New York Wednesday morning with two major boards starting the day at five-year highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at 5-year peaks Tuesday.

In afternoon trading Wednesday, the DJIA added 71.29 points or 0.52 percent to 13,783.50. The Nasdaq composite index gained 10.73 points or 0.34 percent to 3,153.91. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 1.90 points or 0.13 percent to 1,494.46.

The 10-year treasury note rose 3/32 to yield 1.837 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was $1.3312 from Tuesday's $1.3322. The dollar dropped against the yen, hitting 88.63 yen from 88.71 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 2.08 percent, 222.94 points, to 10,486.99.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.3 percent, 18.47 points, to 6,197.64.


U.S. home prices index rose in November

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. home price index rose 0.6 percent October to November, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday.

The agency also revised its price gain from the previous month. Prices were up 0.6 percent in October, not 0.5 percent as previously reported for homes with mortgages backed by either the Federal National Mortgage Association or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., better known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The U.S. home price index is at 15, 2 points below the peak hit in April 2007. From November 2011, however, prices rose 5.6 percent, the agency said.

Home prices have held even or risen each month since January 2011, FHFA said.


Retail has third off week

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. retail sales dropped week-to-week for the third consecutive time in the week that ended Saturday, a Washington retail trade group said Wednesday.

Sales receipts dropped 1.5 percent after dropping 0.6 percent in the previous week and 4.2 percent two weeks ago, the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs weekly consumer tracking survey indicated.

The council said sales receipts rose 3.2 percent from the same week in 2012.

Gasoline prices were "relatively steady," in the week, the tracking report said. Weather, also a factor in the retail community, was also "relatively neutral" in the week, the group said.

ICSC said traffic at department, apparel and grocery stores improved in the week, but sales were slower at discount stores, pharmacies and furniture outlets.

Sales declined at drug, department, dollar, specialty, electronics, office and furniture stores, the council said.


Mortgage action up, rates changes mixed

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. mortgage activity rose 7 percent in the week that ended Friday with long-term interest rates mixed, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

The association said their refinancing activity index also rose, climbing 8 percent percent compared to the same period.

For the week, interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages rose from 3.61 percent to 3.62 percent. Points for 30-year conforming loans rose from 0.38 to 0.43.

The average interest rate for 30-year contracts on jumbo loans -- those larger than $417,500 -- fell from 3.88 percent to 3.85 percent. Points for 30-year jumbo loans fell from 0.38 to 0.34.

Interest rates for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages dropped from 2.88 percent to 2.87 percent with points rising from 0.27 to 0.39.

The average rate for 30-year loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration rose from 3.39 percent to 3.4 percent with points falling from 0.58 to 0.53. Average rate for short-term, adjustable-rate mortgages fell from 2.66 percent to 2.61 percent in the week with points falling from 0.34 to 0.32, the MBA said.

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