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    MORNING BELL: U.S. home prices rise; consumer sentiment dips

    “While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. “The softness in housing is despite favorable conditions elsewhere in the economy: strong job growth, a declining unemployment rate, continued low interest rates and positive consumer confidence.”

    Crude oil prices rose slightly in early Asia on Wednesday despite an industry report that showed a sizeable build in U.S. stocks, but also showed sharp draws on distillates as heating oil sales perk up on cold weather. The American Petroleum Institute said crude stocks rose 8.9 million barrels last week, while distillate holdings fell 2.4 million barrels and gasoline supplies dropped 1.6 million barrels.

    A Greek exit from the euro zone was not an option considered during talks between the country's new government and its international lenders, a senior Eurogroup official told Austrian broadcaster ORF. In comments aired late on Tuesday, Thomas Wieser, president of the Eurogroup Working Group, which prepares decisions for meetings of euro zone finance ministers, said the two sides had found a "relatively acceptable compromise". When asked whether "Grexit" had been on the table, he said that -- except for journalists -- it hadn't been.



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