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Here are the main headlines in the stock market today.
- Home prices show strong improvement- The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index increased for the fifth month in a row as prices in June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis were up 2.3% from the previous year and ahead of expectations for a 2.2% increase. Home prices rose 6.9% in the three months ended June 30 compared to the first three months of 2012. The index, which measures single-family homes and covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, continues to back up the belief that the housing market has finally turned a corner. "We seem to be witnessing exactly what we needed for a sustained recovery; monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change," said David Blitzer, a spokesman for Standard & Poor's, in a statement. "The market may have finally turned around."
- Consumer confidence falls to nine-month low- As worries over the economy escalate and more Americans are unemployed consumer confidence slipped to its lowest level since last November. In August, consumer confidence, measured by the Conference Board's Confidence Index, fell to 60.6 from 65.4. Economists had hoped the index would rise slightly to 66. The board's future expectations sub-index dropped to 70.7 from 78.4, while the present-conditions index was basically unchanged at 45.
- Mario Draghi to skip Jackson Hole– President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi was expected to be the keynote speaker Saturday September 1 in the second day of the Jackson Hole, WY Symposium. Draghi will not attend due to his heavy workload regarding the strategy of the ECB's new bond-buying plan. Details regarding the European Stability Mechanism and other measures to improve the Eurozone debt crisis are expected to be announced at the ECB's next meeting Sept. 6.
- Molycorp surges on rare-earth production- Molycorp Inc. (NSYE: MCP), a Greenwood Village, CO-based miner announced after-hours Monday that it had begun to produce heavy rare-earth concentrate from freshly mined ore. Molycorp owns one of the few fully developed "rare-earth" projects outside of China. Those rare earths are used in such technologies as wind turbines and hybrid electric vehicles and will be processed in Molycorp's production facilities. Shares are surging this morning, but if you are a Private Briefing subscriber you were well aware of this stock and its potential. Molycorp was highlighted in last Friday's Private Briefing as a commodities stock that would offset some of these inflationary pressures and allow you to generate a "real" return. Today the stock is up over 11% as of noon. [If you are interested in learning more about Private Briefing please click here.]
- Lexmark International up big on printer move– Lexmark International Inc. (NSYE: LXK) announced today that it will exit the inkjet printer business and plans to cut 1,700 jobs or about 13% of the company's global workforce. The move is expected to generate $85 million in savings in 2013 and then $95 million each year beginning in 2015. LXK stock is up over 14% as of noon.
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