Monday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

Stocks advanced on Monday afternoon, buoyed by strong pending home sales. At 12:50 p.m.:

DJIA: +0.71% to 13,817.20 S&P 500: +0.77% to 1,594.36 NASDAQ: +1.06% to 3,314.04
Gold: +$13.80 to $1,467.40 per ounce Oil: +$1.04 to $94.04 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.000% to 1.664%

Here are three stories moving markets on Monday afternoon:

1) Higher Incomes Are Helping Out the American Consumer:  Consumer spending — an important gauge for the health of the United States economy, as it accounts for about 70 percent of gross domestic product — has been closely watched since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. In recent months, reports from the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Commerce Department, and the ICSC-Goldman Store Sales Index have shown a mixed reading of this sector. However, the Commerce Department indicated Monday that Americans spent more last month and their income grew, an indication that the tax increases implemented at the beginning of the year have not yet held back spending.

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The Commerce Department said Monday that consumers spending increased 0.2 percent in March, following a 0.7 percent jump in February and 0.3 percent gain in January. Analysts had expected just a 0.1 percent rise. Personal income increased 0.2 percent last month, a slightly softer result than forecast. In February, the measure rose 1.1 percent… (Read more.)

2) Is the Housing Market Still Rebounding? Pending home sales climbed higher than expected last month, but supply issues are still weighing on contract activity. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 1.5 percent to 105.7 in March, compared to a downwardly revised 104.1 in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Analysts were expecting an increase of about 1 percent.

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The index is 7 percent above the same period last year. Pending sales have now been above year-ago levels for 23 consecutive months. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract signings during 2001… (Read more.)

3) European Economic Sentiment Slides As Recovery Stalls: Data released on Monday add to a growing body of evidence that suggest that the euro zone may be further from a recovery than some had expected. The Economic Sentiment Indicator, compiled by the European Commission, decreased by 1.5 points in the EA17, and decreased by 1.8 points in the EU27, trending well below the long-term average.

Perhaps most troubling is that economic sentiment worsened significantly in major economies such as Germany (-2.3 points), France (-2.0 points), and Italy (-1.9 points). Overall, the index dropped to 88.6, which compares against the long-term average set to 100. The decline was more than expected, with economists polled by Bloomberg forecasting a decline to 89.3… (Read more.)

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