NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are being lifted by a pair of encouraging economic reports this morning. Wages and spending rose in the U.S. last month, and pending home sales hit their highest level in three years.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department says consumer spending increased 0.2 percent in March, following a 0.7 percent jump the month before. Some of that was due to an unusually cold March, which forced people to spend more on heat. Income also increased 0.2 percent last month, following a gain of 1.1 percent in February. The higher incomes helped offset an increase in Social Security taxes that kicked in Jan. 1.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in March to the highest level in three years. The National Association of Realtors says that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 1.5 percent to 105.7. That's the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer's tax credit boosted sales. It's also above February's reading of 104.1. Signed contracts are 7 percent higher than they were a year ago.
DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler says its first-quarter profit tumbled 65 percent as shipments of cars and trucks fell while it prepared to launch several key new vehicles. The Auburn Hills, Mich., company earned $166 million in the January-March quarter, compared with $473 million a year ago. Revenue fell 6 percent to $15.4 billion. Chrysler is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat, which is reporting a first-quarter loss of $108 million.
PLANO, Texas (AP) -- J.C. Penney is confirming that Goldman Sachs will provide it with $1.75 billion in financing. The Texas-based department store chain has been burning through cash. Earlier this month, it said it would draw $850 million from its $1.85 billion revolving credit line. CEO Ron Johnson was fired this month after his ambitious turnaround plan backfired and caused sales to plummet.
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