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Stocks Bolstered by Consumer Confidence, Rising Housing Values

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks markets gained Tuesday, bouncing back after last week's first weekly decline in five following a report that reaffirmed improvements in U.S. home values and data that showed better-than-expected consumer confidence in the economic recovery.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index posted an increase in May to 76.2, up from 69 in April, when there was also an improvement. On average, economists were expecting an increase to 71.1 in May.

The S&P 500 gained 0.63% to 1,660.07 after a long weekend in the United States. U.S. stocks posted their first weekly decline in five weeks last week on concern the Federal Reserve may wind down its stimulus program. Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated Wednesday that the central bank may be ready to curb its bond buying if economic conditions improve.

As of Tuesday, the index was up 16.4% this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.69% to 15,409.39 while the Nasdaq tacked on 0.86% to 3,488.89.

Peter Cardillo, New York-based chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital said that a combination of factors were easing Fed wind-down concerns at the start of the week.

"Reaffirmation policy pledges by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan ... the burst of confidence by the consumer which bodes well for consumer spending are negating last week's Fed concerns," he said. "In fact, most of the economic data this week will confirm modest growth, diminishing the chance of the early exiting of stimulants keeping the bull charge at full speed ahead."

Before the market open, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed a March increase of 10.9%, up from 9.3% in February. The March rise was above the average economist estimate of 10.2%, according to a Thomson Reuters poll and the biggest increase in seven years.

Tiffany (TIF - Get Report) jumped 4% to $79.22 after the jeweler posted first-quarter earnings that beat expectations by 18 cents, at 70 cents a share, with revenues also exceeding estimates as same-store sales gained 8%.

Exelon (EXC - Get Report) tumbled 7.5% to $32.04 after the owner of utilities that supply power to Chicago and Philadelphia was cut to "hold" from "buy" by analyst Jonathan Arnold, who wrote that the company "now faces headwinds in 2016 to 2017 ... more importantly, another surge of new committed gas plants and imports in 2016 is a big risk that may offset energy price upside expected from coal plant retirements."

Title insurance company Fidelity National Financial (FNF - Get Report) said it will acquire mortgage technology provider Lender Processing Services (LPS), which it owned previously, for $2.9 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. Fidelity National dipped 0.57% to $26.03, while Lender Processing gained 1.8% to $33.49. June gold futures fell $7.70 to $1,378.90 an ounce. July crude oil contracts climbed 86 cents to settle at $95.01 a barrel.

Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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