U.S. stocks surged in early trading as investors digested stellar economic data that appeared to put the housing and financial crises far in the rearview mirror. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by more than 200 points, or 1.4%. The Standard & Poors 500 index rose 1.4%. The Nasdaq gained 1.6%.
One of the reports powering the markets showed that U.S. home prices posted their strongest gains since 2007. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller national index, prices rose 10.2% in the first quarter.
In another report, consumer confidence surged to a five-year high in May, fueled by increased optimism about an improving job market. The Consumer Confidence Index, which gauges how consumers feel about the economy each month, rose to 76.2 in May -- its highest reading since February 2008, according to research firm the Conference Board.
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