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March 26, 2013 at 7:03 PM
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Dow hits all-time high -- S&P almost

NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes rose Tuesday pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to a record close and the Standard & Poor's 500 very close to its all-time high.

The DJIA added 111.90 points -- 0.77 percent -- on the day to 14,559.65, eclipsing the record set March 22, which was 14,539.14.

The S&P 500 ended within 2 points of its all-time closing high, which was set in October 2007 at 1,565.15.

On Tuesday, the S&P added 12.08 points to 1,563.77, up 0.78 percent.

The tech-oriented Nasdaq composite index also rose, climbing 0.63 percent or 17.18 points to 3,252.48.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,092 stocks advanced and 946 declined on a volume of 2.8 billion shares traded.

Stocks were given a boost by a U.S. Commerce Department report on durable goods order, which rose 5.7 percent from January to February.

A closely watched monthly index of U.S. home prices, the S&P-Case/Shiller report, also gave stocks support. The 20-city Composite Index released Tuesday indicated prices rose 8.1 percent in January from 12 months prior.

Ten-year U.S. treasury bonds rose 3/32 to yield 1.914 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.2862 from Monday's $1.2853. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 94.46 yen from 94.41 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 percent, 74.84 points, to 12,471.62.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.33 percent, 20.99 points, to 6,399.37.

Consumer confidence ticks lower

NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. consumer confidence slipped in March after rising in February, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The index has now dropped in four of the past five months. In March, the index fell sharply, falling from 68 to 59.7.

The index is a comparison from 1985, which was assigned the value of 100.

Economists had expected the confidence index to hold at 68.

In March, 16 percent of respondents to a survey that involves more than 5,000 households indicated they believed business conditions were "good," down from 17.6 percent in February.

Responses indicating a belief that business conditions were "bad" rose from 28.2 in February to 29.3 in March.

The percentage of respondents indicating jobs were "plentiful," fell from 10.1 percent to 9.4 percent, while those indicating jobs were difficult to get fell from 36.9 percent to 36.2.

Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco said the austerity budget in Washington has had its impact on consumer confidence.

"The recent sequester has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and as a result, consumers are less confident." Franco said.

Central Atlantic business remains positive

RICHMOND, Va., March 26 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., said Central Atlantic manufacturing expanded in March, although at a slower pace than February.

For the region, "factory shipments and employment remained in positive territory, while the volume of new orders declined somewhat. Other indicators also suggested softer activity," the Fed said in its monthly report.

Indexes for delivery times and capacity utilization, which is the percentage of output compared to factories going full steam, "turned negative in the month and the volume of new orders declined somewhat," the Fed said.

The diffuse business index for the region fell to 3 in March from 6 in February. The shipments index fell from 10 to eight. The index measuring the volume of new orders dropped from the breakeven point of zero to minus four.

The number of employees index rose from eight to nine month to month, while the average workweek index jumped from minus two to 10, the report said.

Home prices show strong gains

NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. home prices rose in January from January 2012 in all 20 cities monitored in a closely watched index, Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller data showed Tuesday.

Prices over the 12-month stretch rose 8.1 percent in the 20-city composite index and 7.3 percent in a 10-city index, the report said.

The sharpest gain in prices was in Phoenix, which led the nation with a 23.2 percent price gain.

Compared with December, 19 of the 20 cities monitored showed a faster rate of price inflation in January. Detroit was the only city to show prices rising at a slower rate than they were rising in December.

New York City joined the rest of the pack with prices in positive territory for the first time after 28 months of negative annual returns, the report said.

"The two headline composites posted their highest year-over-year increases since summer 2006. This marks the highest increase since the housing bubble burst," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

"Economic data continues to support the housing recovery. Single-family home building permits and housing starts posted double-digit year-over-year increases in February 2013. Despite a slight uptick in foreclosure filings, numbers are still down 25 percent," Blitzer said.

Double-digit annual increases in January were posted in Phoenix, up 23.2 percent; San Francisco, up 17.5 percent; Las Vegas, up 15.3 percent; Detroit, up 13.8 percent; Atlanta, up 13.4 percent; Los Angeles and Minneapolis, up 12.1 percent; and Miami, up 10.8 percent.

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