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Stocks drift…Consumer confidence higher…Home prices rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is drifting up and down in early trading, a quiet coda for a rocking quarter that sent the U.S. stock market nearly all the way back to its record heights. The S&P 500 was up 0.2% after reversing an earlier loss of 0.2%. Other stock markets were mixed, while Treasury yields ticked lower and crude oil gave up a smidgen of its tremendous rebound for the quarter. The S&P 500 is on pace for its best quarter since 1998, but that’s only after its worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. Analysts say to expect more volatility ahead.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose in June, reflecting the partial re-opening of the country but the concern is that rising coronavirus cases in many states could jeopardize future gains. The Conference Board, a New York-based research organization, said that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 98.1 in June after virtually no change at 85.9 in May. The index remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose in April for the eighth straight month, even as sales have stumbled, a sign the coronavirus outbreak has had little impact on real estate values. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 4% in April, the largest gain since December 2018, up from 3.9% in March. Home sales have fallen sharply for three straight months to their lowest annual pace in nearly a decade in May. Yet the supply of available houses for sale has also declined, compared with a year ago, forcing remaining buyers to bid up prices.

LONDON (AP) — Energy producer Royal Dutch Shell says it will slash the value of its assets by $22 billion to account for lower oil and gas prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said it continues “to adapt to ensure the business remains resilient” in challenging times. Earlier this month, its competitor BP, also cut the value of its own assets by up to $17.5 billion. The pandemic has hit the energy industry hard because it has placed onerous limits on business, travel and public life. There is little need in aviation for fuel, for example, since most planes are grounded.

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. federal marshals are getting ready to auction off Wednesday a cargo of 100,000 barrels of gasoline that have been floating in a tanker off the Gulf Coast of Texas for two months amid a high-stakes legal fight over American sanctions on Venezuela. The dispute pits one of Greece’s most powerful businessmen against a fellow shipping magnate from Venezuela who has a history of helping out the country’s socialist leaders. The ship was hired to transport the gasoline to a ship near Aruba but along the way its owners suspected the cargo’s real destination was Venezuela and turned back to avoid potentially violating sanctions. A federal judge in Houston agreed and seized the cargo while arbitration continues.

Associated Press

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