NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mostly higher today, as several reports point to surprising economic strength.
The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index stands at 69.6, reversing three straight months of declines as shoppers adjust to last month's payroll tax hike. The figure is still well below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department says new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000, the highest level since July 2008.
Home prices rose at a healthy pace in December. Rising sales and a smaller supply of available homes helped push the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index up 6.8 percent.
And, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reports profits of U.S. banks jumped almost 37 percent from October through December, reaching the highest level in six years as banks continued to step up lending.