Stocks edge higher as traders return from holiday

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 26, 2012 at 9:28 am •  Published: December 26, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks opened modestly higher on Wall Street Wednesday as traders returned from the Christmas holiday.

Trading was quiet. Markets in Europe were still closed. Traders were also watching to see if a budget agreement materializes in Washington. President Barack Obama cut short his Christmas vacation in Hawaii and was returning to Washington later Wednesday to resume budget talks with Congressional Republicans.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 21 points at 13,160 as of 10:19 a.m. Eastern.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up half a point at 1,427 and the Nasdaq composite was up less than a point at 3,014.

Better news about the housing market was tempered by disappointing readings on the U.S. holiday shopping season.

Home prices rose in most major U.S. cities in October compared with the same month a year ago, according to the latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller national home price index. Sales rose at the same time the supply of available homes declined. The index increased 4.3 percent, the largest year-over-year jump in two and a half years, when a homebuyer tax credit temporarily boosted sales.

The news on holiday shopping wasn't encouraging. In the two months before Christmas, sales of electronics, clothing, jewelry and home goods increased just 0.7 percent compared with the same period last year, according to The MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report.

That's well below the growth of 3 to 4 percent growth that analysts had expected and the worst year-over-year comparison since 2008, when spending shrank during the Great Recession. Last year sales climbed 4 to 5 percent during November and December, according to ShopperTrak.