April 30 - Summary of business headlines: S&P 500 climbs to new high as housing, consumer confidence offset regional factory index; Apple sets terms for record debt sale; Cyprus narrowly approves $13.2 billion EU bailout. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street flexed its muscle, beating back losses tied to more evidence of a slowing U.S. economy. By the close, stocks rallied for the seventh time in eight sessions. The S&P 500 creeping up to a new record close. A gain for the month of April means Wall Street is up 10 of the last 11 months. On the bright side: housing. Home prices in February - posting their strongest year-over-year rise in almost seven years, as measured by the closely-watched S&P/Case Shiller Index. With housing the greatest source of wealth for many Americans, no surprise consumer confidence rebounded more than expected in April, according to the Conference Board. But data out of the Midwest are a reminder the economy is still worrisome. Business activity shrank for the first time since September 2009 and employment was down in the April Chicago NAPM survey. David Blitzer of S&P Dow Jones Indices has a few thoughts on why the U.S. economy is once again slowing down in the spring. SOUNDBITE: DAVID BLITZER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, S&P DOW JONES INDICES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've seen this for two, three, four years running and when you see the same pattern repeat, you gotta scratch your head and say 'I wonder if we are screwing up the seasonal adjustments.' Maybe we've got statistics in there that tend to pump up the fourth quarter and the first quarter and then drain down the second and third quarters because the numbers got screwed during the financial crisis." Apple will sell $17 billion in debt, the largest non-bank bond offering ever to hit the market. The proceeds will go to fund a $100 billion give back to shareholders. Shares of Apple - rallying to their best close in a month. On the earnings docket: Standard and Poor's parent McGraw Hill beating adjusted profit estimates even though a $5 billion fraud lawsuit hangs over its head. Pfizer fails to live up to forecast and cut its outlook for the year. Prevnar, the drugmaker's third biggest drug, did not sell well last quarter. And cost cutting helping turn things around at Avon. The report was good enough to send the stock to its highest close in more than a year. In Europe, lawmaker in Cyprus barely approved a controversial $13.2 billion European Union bailout. As for the markets, stocks were down but closed out the longest monthly winning streak in over 15 years.