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Feb. 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM
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U.S. market comeback weakens

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes rebounded early Tuesday, but gains weakened just as quickly.

Analysts have said markets are overdue for a downward correction but stocks found support from two home price reports released Tuesday that indicated the housing market finished 2012 with strong gains.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said home prices rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter over the third quarter. The S&P/Case-Shilling home price report said its national composite index posted a gain of 7.3 percent on the year.

Stocks regained about half of Monday's rout straight away. By noon, the gains were evaporating.

The Dow Jones industrial average held onto a 74.72 point gain or 0.54 percent to 13,858.89 after jumping more than 100 points early. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 1.76 points or 0.12 percent to 1,489.61. The Nasdaq composite shed 5.27 points or 0.17 percent to 3,110.99.

The 10-year U.S. treasury rose 4/32 to yield 1.855 percent.

Against the dollar the euro fell to $1.3048 from Monday's $1.3062. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 91.38 yen from 91.82 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed at 11,398.81 points, down 263.71 points or 2.26 percent.

Home prices end 2012 with strong gains

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. home price indexes closed out 2012 with strong gains, two closely watched housing reports said Tuesday.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which reports quarterly on homes backed by the Federal National Mortgage Association or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., better known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, said home prices rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter over the third.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices rose 5.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the agency said.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, also released Tuesday, said that the national composite index posted a gain of 7.3 percent for 2012.

"Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains," said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee.

In the final monthly report of the year, prices rose in 19 of 20 cities from a year earlier. From the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis all 20 cities were even or ahead.

Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Francisco all posted annual gains of 10 percent or more, lead by Phoenix where prices rose 23 percent.

Only New York City posted an annual decline, with prices off 0.5 percent, the report said.

Colombia greets coffee strike with force

BOGOTA, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- National Police in Colombia said 15,000 policemen are reporting to duty to maintain order as an estimated 30,000 coffee growers staged demonstrations.

Colombia Reports said Tuesday that street demonstrations demanding government support for the struggling coffee industry occurred in Antioquia, Huila, Risaralda, Quindio and Tolima, regions of Colombia.

Confrontations with protesters resulted in 21 injuries, none of which were considered life-threatening, and reports indicate that most of the protests have been peaceful, Colombia Reports said.

"[Farmers] are paid $282 for a sack of coffee but the cost of producing it is $366. These are small farmers. They are poor. The culture of coffee growing is important to Colombia but we cannot continue like this," Victor Correa, a strike organizer, told Colombia Reports in January.

Correa called the situation "an economic crisis, a social crisis, an institutional crisis and a crisis of production."

But Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said no other country matches Colombia for support of coffee growers -- aid that amounts to $1.65 million a month, he said.

"The strike that is happening today is not only inconvenient and unnecessary, it is also unjust," Santos said.

Yahoo! cancels work-at-home policy

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Internet giant Yahoo! said it was ordering its workers to report back to their company offices.

In a note posted online, Yahoo! said some work qualities are enhanced by having workers in the same location.

"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home," the posting said.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that analysts studying the issue have concluded that innovation improves when workers interact with each other but productivity goes up when they work from home.

"If you want innovation, then you need interaction. If you want productivity, then you want people working from home," said John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University.

Besides the loss of innovation, "A lot of companies are afraid to let their workers work from home some of the time or all of the time because they're afraid they'll lose control," said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and executive employment agency.

But some say Yahoo!'s decision is the height of irony. Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer was hired from Google when she was 37 and pregnant, leaving many to believe she would be an advocate for flexible work arrangements.

Secondly, Yahoo! is a child of Silicon Valley and an Internet company, which is in a large way responsible for the cultural switch to that allows, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, 24 percent of workers to do at least part of their jobs from home.

Mayer, however, is following Google and Facebook on this, the Times said.

Both of those technology firms prefer workers to work at company offices, although some work from home on a "case-by-case basis," the Times said.

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