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Stocks open sharply higher on Wall Street

MGN Online

MGN Online

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are seeing big gains on Wall Street this morning after a pair of upbeat reports on the U.S. economy.

The Conference Board says its index of consumer confidence hit a five-year high this month at 76.2.

Consumers' confidence in the economy is watched closely because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Conference Board economist Lynn Franco said Americans are regaining their confidence in the economy after worrying earlier in the year about higher taxes that took effect in January and federal spending cuts that began in March.

Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index rose nearly 11 percent in March over the year before, the most since April 2006. Home builder stocks rose following the report.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index released Monday also showed that all 20 cities measured posted annual gains for the third straight month.

And prices rose in 15 cities in March from February. That's up from only 11 in the previous month.

Annual prices rose in Phoenix by 22.5 percent, the biggest gain among cities. It was followed by San Francisco (22.2 percent) and Las Vegas (20.6 percent). New York City had the smallest annual increase, at 2.6 percent. It was followed by Cleveland with 34.8 percent.

The Dow has been up more than 200 points in morning trading while the S&P is up more than 20 points and the Nasdaq nearly 50.

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