Wall Street in negative territory…Jerome Powell’s first appearance before Congress…US consumer confidence at highest level in years

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street has been drifting into negative territory this morning. At 10:44 a.m. Eastern Time, the Dow dropped 42 points, to 25,664. The S&P 500 was down 3 points, to 2,776. And the Nasdaq was down 13 points, to 7,409. In the first few minutes of trading, Morgan Stanley rose 1.2 percent, while Schlumberger rose 2.1 percent. Comcast sank 5.6 percent after announcing a bid to take over the British satellite TV company Sky. Macy’s jumped 12 percent after reporting a big gain in a key sales measure over the holidays.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s first appearance before Congress is being viewed as an effort by the new Fed leader to provide assurances that Fed policies are not about to undergo an abrupt change. In prepared remarks, Powell depicted an economy that’s gaining strength and he stressed that he intends to follow the approach to interest rates set by his predecessor, Janet Yellen. The Fed boosted its benchmark rate three times last year.

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers are the most confident they’ve been since 2000. The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index rose to 130.8 in February, the highest level since November 2000 and up from 124.3 in January. A strong job market is boosting confidence. The unemployment rate has stayed at a 17-year low 4.1 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose at the fastest 12-month pace in more than three years in 2017, as potential home buyers fought over a limited number of available properties. Standard & Poor’s said that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index jumped 6.3 percent last year, the most since June 2014.

WASHINGTON (AP) — New orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell 3.7 percent in January, the biggest decline since July 2017 following two months of increases that reflected strength in the country’s industry, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Orders were depressed by a 10 percent drop in demand for transportation equipment, a category that can bounce around from month to month.

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