- - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

COMMERCE

Survey: Consumer confidence rises in July

NEW YORK — Americans’ confidence in the economy continues its roller-coaster ride.

As their short-term outlook on jobs and income eased somewhat, U.S. consumers’ confidence rose slightly in July, according to a monthly survey out on Tuesday, but confidence levels still remain weak overall.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index edged up to 59.5 in July, from a revised 57.6 in June that marked a seven-month low in the measure. Economists had expected the July figure to fall to 56.

A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy on the index, which measures how Americans feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months. It hasn’t approached that level since the recession began in December 2007, and a shift of less than five points is generally discarded by economists as insignificant.

REAL ESTATE

Spring buying gives housing market a boost

Home prices rose for the second straight month in most major U.S. cities and are stabilizing after years of declines. But analysts say the trend in prices hardly signals a rebound for the troubled housing market.

A flurry of spring buyers is helping boost sales. At the same time, millions of foreclosures are in limbo, awaiting the results of a government investigation into improper practices by mortgage lenders. Once that probe is complete, banks will resume seizing homes, and prices will likely fall again.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index released Tuesday showed that prices rose in May in 16 of the 20 cities tracked.

Boston, Minneapolis and Washington posted the biggest monthly increases. Prices in Detroit, Las Vegas and Tampa, Fla. — three cities hit hardest by the housing crisis — fell to their lowest points since the recession began.

NEW YORK

Gay nuptials unveil financial boon for services

NEW YORK — A lot of people are happy to see same-sex marriage legal in New York: lawyers, marriage counselors and insurance agents.

Story Continues →