Mar 20 - Summary: Stocks rebound as economic data improve without help from housing; 29 of 30 U.S. banks pass Fed's annual stress exam; Nike easily races past estimates; Investors continue love affair with mobile messaging start ups like Tango. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Markets bounce back after yelling at Yellen for signaling rate hikes could come earlier than anticipated. Thursday's gains just about made up for the previous day's losses, with banks leading the way since they will benefit most from higher interest rates. Speaking of banks, shares of Zion Bancorp rallied more than 3 percent before learning it was the only major bank to fail the Federal Reserve's annual stress test. Also after the bell, earnings from Nike. The athletic apparel company beat sales and profit forecasts and said its order backlog is up 12 percent. Staying with earnings: Lennar sold more homes at higher price tags last quarter. The homebuilder, though, says it's hard to predict what the spring buying season will look like. But sales of previously owned homes continue their slide in February. Sales slumped to a 1-1/2 year low, according to data from an industry trade group. The numbers raise more concern that the traditional uptick during the spring buying season may be muted. Jed Kolko of Trulia says today's potential buyers are more financially restrained than those who bought when housing was coming out of the downturn. SOUNDBITE: JED KOLKO, CHIEF ECONOMIST, TRULIA (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Remember we've come out of a deep recession. Many people lost jobs or became a lot less secure in their jobs and also student debt went up. All these things make it harder to save for or hold on to a down payment. Also, it's been very difficult for many people to qualify for a mortgage. All these factors hold back people who might want to buy." Other data are more upbeat. Manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic states picked up this month… And weekly jobless claims remain close to three-month lows. Tango is the latest mobile messaging company to ride the investing wave. The start-up raised $280 million in new financing, with China's Alibaba putting up the lion's share. The financing comes about a month after Facebook shocked the tech world with a $19 billion offer for WhatsApp. President Obama outlined more sanctions against Russian officials - but there was some tongue wagging in Europe about how far sanctions should go. As for the markets, it was a mixed bag with stocks in the U.K. down by half of one percent.