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Markets moved significantly ahead on Tuesday, buoyed by optimism that the Greek debt-crisis was nearing a solution and positive economic data that suggested a surge in home prices for the first time in eight months. However, volumes remained tight, reflecting the underlying cautious stance of investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial (DJIA) zoomed past the psychological level of 12, 000 as it recorded its biggest gains in two months. The Dow gained 145 points or 1.2% to settle at 12188.69. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) surged 1.3% to finish at 1296.67. The Nasdaq Composite index was up to 2729.31, after gaining 1.5%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index settled at 19.23. On the New York Stock Exchange, AMEX and Nasdaq, consolidated volumes remained low with just 5.91 billion shares traded.
Optimism about Greece’s $111.3 billion austerity plan getting a green signal from the country’s lawmakers buoyed the broader markets, negating the violent protests that have broken out in the nation. The austerity plan, which awaits the first of the two votes on Wednesday, is a significant prerequisite for Greece to receive the loan. The International Monetary Fund and European Union have strictly maintained that in order to receive the bailout package, Greece would have to adhere to the austerity measures.
Wednesday’s vote will be followed by another vote on Thursday that will decide upon implementation measures. Investors also cheered reports of France agreeing to extend the maturity period of Greek bonds and German bankers agreeing to roll over roughly $10 billion in Greek government debt.
On the domestic front, economic data from The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices further added to the cheer after the 10- and 20-City composites showed increases for the first time in eight months. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index of national home prices suggested a 0.7% jump in April on a seasonally adjusted basis. The index had dropped 3.6% in March. The S&P/Case-Shiller 10-city index also registered an increase, jumping 0.8% in April. Housing data had rattled the markets on most occasions since last month, but this time the index helped in lifting market sentiment. Stocks that gained in the sector included KB Home (NYSE:KBH), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), Comstock Homebuilding Companies Inc. (NASDAQ:CHCI), M/I Homes, Inc. (NYSE:MHO) and DR Horton Inc. (NYSE:DHI), rising by 1.1%, 2.7%, 3.1%, 3.3% and 1.0%, respectively.
However, a report from the Conference Board failed to suggest any positives as the Consumer Confidence Index declined yet again in June after falling last month. The report stated: “The Index now stands at 58.5 (1985=100), down from 61.7 in May. The Present Situation Index decreased to 37.6 from 39.3. The Expectations Index declined to 72.4 from 76.7 last month.
Commenting on the index, Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said: “This month’s decline in consumer confidence was driven by a less favorable assessment of current conditions and continued pessimism about the short-term outlook. Consumers rated both current business and labor market conditions less favorably than in May, and fewer consumers than last month foresee conditions improving over the next six months. Inflation fears eased considerably in June, but concerns about income prospects increased.
The energy sector was on course for heavy gains and the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) fund surged 2.9%. Crude rebounded from the previous session’s four-month low and recorded its biggest one-day gain since May 18 as August crude-oil futures contract jumped $2.28, or 2.5%, to $92.89 per barrel. Among the gainers were Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX), Total SA (NYSE:TOT), Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and they increased by 2.2%, 1.5%, 1.6%, 4.7% and 2.1%, respectively.
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