The FTSE in London settled down 0.59% and the DAX in Germany finished up a mere 0.18% after Bernanke's Congressional testimony. Earlier in Europe, the ZEW index of German investor expectations showed a decline to minus 19.6 in July from minus 16.9 in June.
Bernanke, who will appear in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, began his prepared remarks before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday by acknowledging the soft patch that's cropped up in the data over the past few months.
"The U.S. economy has continued to recover, but economic activity appears to have decelerated somewhat during the first half of this year," Bernanke said. "After rising at an annual rate of 2-1/2 percent in the second half of 2011, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a 2 percent pace in the first quarter of 2012, and available indicators point to a still-smaller gain in the second quarter."
One bright spot for the economy, Bernanke maintained, was the U.S. housing market recovery, a view that was backed up earlier when a gauge of builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes jumped six points to 35 for July. It was the largest one-month gain recorded in nearly a decade, bringing the National Association of Home Builders index to its highest point since March of 2007.The consensus was for an increase to 30. A level above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. In other economic data, the Fed said early Tuesday morning that industrial production increased by a modest 0.4% in June, better than the 0.3% rise expected by economists, after falling by a downwardly revised 0.2% in May. Capacity utilization moved up in June to 78.9%, below the expected 79.2%, from a downwardly revised 78.7% in May. August crude oil futures settled up 79 cents to $89.22 a barrel. August gold futures settled down $2.10 to $1,589.50 an ounce. The benchmark 10-year Treasury slipped 10/32, raising the yield to 1.508%, while the greenback was down 0.16%, according to the dollar index.
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