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Two Ways: Is the Economy Headed In the Right Direction?

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Strengthen your portfolio in good times and bad.

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Consumer confidence jumped in April by the most since 2005 as a rally in stocks, lower mortgage rates and tax refunds helped boost confidence.

Bloomberg reports the Conference Board's Sentiment Index rose to a 5-month high of 39.2, surpassing expectations of 29.5. March figures were revised to 26.9.

The Conference Board's report coincided with the release of the S&P/Case Shiller Index showing the rate of decline in housing prices in 20 US cities slowed in February - the first time in about 25 months. The index still fell by 18.6% from the same period a year earlier, but the declining pace is leading many Americans to believe the economy is headed in the right direction.

For more on the bigger picture, see Professor Bill Feingold's Home Ownership: Hazardous to Financial Health?

From the Bull Pen: The S&P 500 has been trading in a range frustrating both bulls and bears. But one clue in favor of Hoofy is that every piece of bad news is met with a slew of demand. Those bullish can use the S&P Depository receipts (SPY); a sell stop can be set below $84.

From the Bear Cave: Professor Quint Tatro laid out his downside trade nicely on the Buzz & Banter today. "To fulfill the itch that the rally will end soon, I have laid out a short in the S&P Retail ETF (XRT) with a stop just above in the $27.50-$28.00 range." Not a big position for him he said, so he isn't going to be stubborn if it breaks his stop.

Have a great night!

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS AND INSIGHT FROM FORMER MERRILL LYNCH CHIEF ECONOMIST - 14 DAY FREE TRIAL



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