June 28 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks rally sharply for second day; Christine Lagarde gets IMF top post, urges Greek cooperation; U.S. home prices dip in April; Consumer confidence falls to seven-month low. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street put together its strongest two-day rally in months as investors grow more confident Greece will get its act together and avoid default. That confidence, however, had to overlook a day of riotous protests in the Greek capitol of Athens where a 48-hour anti-austerity labor strike turned violent. Greece is definitely on the mind of Christine Lagarde. In her first public comments since being named the next head of the International Monetary Fund - she urged politicians to work together. SOUNDBITE: CHRISTINE LAGARDE, INCOMING MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (FRENCH WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) SAYING: "I have a message to get through concerning Greece. It's an appeal to the Greek political opposition to join in a national agreement the party that is currently in power. It's about the destiny of a country, of its security and I think one has to put big and small political differences aside in the service of a country to get over these small matters." Investors believe the Greek parliament will get over those differences - sending U.S. stocks up more than a full percent. Oil prices jumped higher on the same sentiment - logging their biggest one-day gain in six weeks. And France, which is exposed to Greek debt, led the rally in European shares. In the latest U.S. economic news: home prices fell slightly in April compared to March, according to the S&P Case-Shiller Index. But experts say prices will remain under pressure due to the impact of foreclosures, abundant supply, weak demand and tight credit. Finally, consumer confidence slipped to a seven-month low in June, according to the Conference Board. The reason: Americans are growing more worried about the jobs situation, and a sluggish economic recovery sure doesn't help. Conway Gittens, Reuters