CNN Financial News Producer
Stocks soared Monday as investors hailed the Treasury Dept.'s plan to buy up billions of dollars worth of so-called “toxic” bank assets, seeing it as a critical move in stabilizing the financial system.
At noon, the Dow was up more than 300 points, and the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were each up more than 4%. Wall Street is coming off its first weekly back-to-back winning streak in nearly a year.
Sales of previously-owned homes unexpectedly rose in February, recovering from a sharp drop in the previous month.
The National Association of Realtors says that existing home sales rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units, up 5.1% from a rate of 4.49 million in January.
First-time buyers made up half of all purchases in February, and sales of distressed properties accounted for about 45% of all transactions. Sales were unexpectedly strong in the West, with activity increasing more than 30% over last year.
The national median existing-home price, meanwhile, was $165,400 in February. That’s down 15.5% from last year, when the median price was $195,800. Prices were depressed by the large number of foreclosed properties on the market.
Crude oil prices are back above $53 a barrel.
Last week, the Fed announced it would inject $1 trillion into the U.S. economy. The value of the U.S. dollar drop significantly following the news, which in turn pushed oil prices higher.
Also fueling the increase, OPEC has been cutting production since late last year and the tighter supply is starting to affect prices.
Gas prices rose 3-tenths of a cent overnight to $1.956 a gallon, the 6th consecutive increase. 13 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. 37 states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.481). The cheapest gas prices are in Wyoming ($1.769)
Finally, companies across the country are looking for ways to cut costs. A recent survey from Watson Wyatt indicates that 42% of companies have already frozen salaries. But there are strategies for getting a raise - even in a down economy.
Your value as an employee is not dependent upon the economic conditions of the time; it's all about what you bring to the company. And putting together a good strategy is the key. Click here for some tips on getting a raise.
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