Markets Rally on Strong Home Sales
The markets continued to rally this morning, reacting to surprising strength in the housing market and positive comments from the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Sales of existing homes rose 7.2 percent in July, the highest jump in two years, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Prices still declined. The median price for an existing home was $178,400, about 15 percent less than a year ago.
The Northeast performed the best, followed by the Midwest and the South. The West, badly hit by the housing downturn, still saw sales slide.
About noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 138 points, or 1.5 percent, to 9489, and the the S&P 500 was up 17 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1024.
That was the fourth straight day of gains. The S&P is now at its highest level since October.
At a symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed measured optimism about the trajectory for the U.S. economy.
"After contracting sharply over the past year, economic activity appears to be leveling out, both in the United States and abroad, and the prospects for growth in the near term appear good," Bernanke said.
With the renewed prospects for the global economy, oil prices continued their ascent today. Crude oil rose to $74 a barrel, its highest level in 10 months.
-- Zach Goldfarb
August 21, 2009; 12:24 PM ET
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