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Stocks slightly higher...Confidence up...Home prices jump

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks opened slightly higher, helped by better-than-expected earnings from blue chip companies like Johnson & Johnson and General Electric. The results offset renewed worries that troubles with COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and the spread of new variants of coronavirus might delay a recovery from the pandemic. U.S. investors are in the midst of the first-quarter earnings reporting season for U.S. companies, and this is the busiest week so far.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence posted a gain in January, helped by a rise in expectations about the future. The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index increased to 89.3, a rebound from December when it had fallen to a reading of 87.1. The January strength came from a rise in the expectations index, which measures feelings about the future path of incomes, business and labor market conditions. The present situation index weakened further, likely reflecting concerns about the resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices jumped in November at the fastest pace in more than six years, fueled by demand for more living space as Americans stick closer to home during the pandemic. Home prices soared 9.1% in November compared with 12 months ago, according to Tuesday’s report on the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. That is the largest increase since May 2014.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment and address climate change. Two people with knowledge of Biden’s plans outlined the proposed moratorium, which will be announced Wednesday. The move follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters announced last week.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee the Commerce Department says investments across the country are needed to provide Americans with a pathway to a good job as the nation recovers from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, appeared before a Senate panel Tuesday during a confirmation hearing. If confirmed, she would be responsible for promoting opportunities for economic growth domestically and overseas.

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