Apr 26 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street hits 2008 high, waits for Bernanke Q&A; Geithner reiterates ''strong dollar policy'' as debt-ceiling debate rages; Amazon profits take a hit; Ford side-steps supply shortages; Coke results flat. Conway Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS 4:3 MATERIAL The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting - putting the economy and interest rates center stage. But the key event is Fed Chief Ben Bernanke's historic news conference on Wednesday, the first ever live Q&A for a sitting Fed president. Ahead of that - a somewhat promising sign from American shoppers. Consumer confidence bounced back a little in April from near historic lows as shoppers grapple with higher gasoline prices,. Housing, however, remains a negative. Home prices fell for an eighth straight month in February, according to the S&P Case Shiller index. Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the U.S. won't devalue its way to a stronger economy. SOUNDBITE: U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Our policy has been, and will always be - as long at least as I'm in this job - that a strong dollar is in our interest as a country. And we will never embrace a strategy of trying to weaken our currency to gain economic advantage at the expense of our trading partners." In earnings news - sales at Amazon.com beat forecasts, but earnings were way below forecasts. Ford had its best first quarter in 13 years. The first U.S. automaker to report earnings since the March earthquake in Japan, says it is not experiencing the same supply disruptions as its Asian rivals. And Coca-Cola's results were slightly disappointing. Higher input costs are squeezing profits, while weakness in Japan hurt sales. But that wasn't strong enough to derail an earnings-driven rally across Wall Street. The stock market closed at its best level in almost three years. European investors returned from a five-day weekend in a buying mood, buoyed by earnings season. Conway Gittens, Reuters