A "sold" sign in the front yard of a home in Springfield, Ill., last month.
A "sold" sign in the front yard of a home in Springfield, Ill., last month. Seth Perlman/AP
Two more bits of economic news to consider:
— "Existing-home sales rose sharply in December, when sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months," the National Association of Realtors says. According to the trade group, sales rose 12.3 percent to "a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million."
Still, sales were down 2.9 percent from December 2009 and for the year were the lowest since 1997.
— The Conference Board's "leading economic index" rose 1 percent last month from November and "points to an economic expansion that is gaining further traction," the research group's economist, Ataman Ozyildirim says.