Bears, Bulls Battle Over Economic Data

This post is from CNBC producer Robert Hum.

An early morning boost amid mixed economic data.

Stocks jumped sharply higher following the biggest gain in consumer confidence in 6 years. May consumer confidence of 54.9 rose significantly compared to last month’s reading of 40.8 and topped economists’ estimates of 42.6. The latest reading was the indicator’s highest level in eight months.

The markets also shrugged off another poor housing report, with homebuilders higher as well.The S&P/Case-Shiller report showed that home prices dropped 18.7 percent year-over-year in March. On a month-over-month basis, prices fell 2.2 percent from February – a bit more than expected by economists.

Home prices are now at the lowest levels since Q4 2002 and are down 32.2 percent from their highs set in Q2 2006.

Bears argue that this latest report should put cold water on any hope that a housing bottom is near, as the declines continue to pile up and show little improvement. Bulls, however, point out that the March survey of home prices is a backwards-looking view of housing conditions—with nearly a two-month lag on conditions.

All eyes are undoubtedly turned to the April existing and new home sales reports over the next two days, which will presumably provide a better view of the current housing picture.



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