Wall Street higher ... US homebuilders feeling slightly less positive ... rue21 closing a-third of its stores

Posted April 17

— Technology and consumer-focused stocks are leading indexes slightly higher in early trading as investors return from a long holiday weekend. Facebook and Microsoft each rose 0.6 percent in the first few minutes of trading, while gained 1 percent. At 10:38 a.m. Eastern Time, the Dow was up 83 points at 20,536. The S&P 500 is up 9 points at 2,338. And the Nasdaq is up 24 points at 5,829.

U.S. homebuilders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their sales prospects, even as their overall outlook remains favorable. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index has slipped to 68 this month. That's down three points from 71 in March, when it jumped to the highest level since June 2005. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index has been above 60 since September.

A New Jersey woman is suing Wells Fargo Bank, saying she was fired for refusing to participate in a scheme to manipulate accounts and sell products that weren't in customers' best interest. reports that Melinda Bini filed the lawsuit in state court in New Jersey on April 5 against the bank and three supervisors at a Highland Park branch. Wells Fargo was fined $100 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after acknowledging its employees opened more than 2 million checking and credit card accounts without customers' authorization.

Teen clothing retailer rue21 is closing about one-third of its stores nationwide as it focuses more on its online business. The privately held company is closing nearly 400 stores, leaving open more than 700 stores in 48 states. In a Facebook post, the company calls the decision "difficult but necessary." Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, it has been battling declining mall traffic amid strong competition online.

Tuesday is Tax Day, and according to figures, residents in the District of Columbia pay the most taxes. D.C. residents last year paid about $37,000 per person in federal income, payroll and estate taxes. The next closest was Delaware, at $16,000 per person. Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center says "The reason the District pays so much in taxes is that there are a lot of high-income people there."


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