The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell in March to 59.7 from a revised reading of 68 in February. Confidence is still far off from the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy.
Cyprus bank run
Cypriot businesses were under increasing strain to keep running after financial authorities stretched the country’s bank closure into a second week in a harried attempt to stop depositors rushing to drain their accounts. Cyprus said “temporary” but unnamed restrictions will be imposed on financial transactions once the banks reopen.
Europe’s leading institutions clashed over what shape future financial rescues will take after the bailout for Cyprus, creating further uncertainty and concern about the safety of keeping large deposits in European banks. At issue was whether savers, investors, businesses or institutions would be forced to take losses as part of a eurozone rescue.
Goods orders mixed
Overall orders for durable goods surged 5.7 percent in February, the Commerce Department said. Core capital goods, an indication of the trend in business investment, declined 2.7 percent from January.
Sales of new homes dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000 in February, the Commerce Department reported. That is a decline of 4.6 percent from the January level of 431,000, which had been the strongest sales pace since September 2008.
Home prices rise
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 8.1 percent in the 12 months ending in January. Prices rose in 11 of 20 cities on a month-over-month basis.
S&P nears record
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed within a short reach of its all-time high. “Unless something major comes along to derail this rally, it just seems like the market is going to keep climbing higher,” said Marty LeClerc, managing partner of Barrack Yard Advisors, an investment firm in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Gun ads dropped
Store owners complained this week that local advertisements for gun sales would no longer be accepted by Comcast. The cable company said, “Consistent with longstanding NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward.”
T-Mobile USA said it will start offering the iPhone on April 12, filling what its CEO said was “a huge void” in its lineup. The company will charge $100 up front for the iPhone 5, then $20 per month for two years plus service fees for voice, text and data that start at $50 per month.
Grocery jobs cut
Supervalu is eliminating about 1,100 positions nationwide less than a week after the supermarket operator completed the sale of five of its grocery chains.
Last week, Supervalu completed on the sale of Albertson’s, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s and Star Market to an investor group.