Daily Data Flow: S&P Hits Five-Year High; Homebuilder Confidence Down; Yen up on Easing Disagreement

Merger Hopes Lift S&P to Five-Year High (Bloomberg)
Optimism towards dealmaking has raised the S&P 500 to its highest point in five years. ???More deals out there do create a good sentiment,??? Kevin Divney, chief investment officer at Beaconcrest Capital Management in Boston, said. ???It???s a positive now because CEOs now are looking further out, and that???s been the issue the past four years. If we can extend horizons it makes for better strategic decisions.???

Homebuilder Confidence Down for First Time in Almost a Year (CNBC)
After nearly a year of steady, healthy gains in homebuilder confidence, February is playing host to a step back in that sentiment. “This is partly due to ongoing uncertainties about job growth and consumer access to mortgage credit, but it’s also a reflection of the fact that builders are now confronting rising costs for building materials and, in some markets, limited availability of labor and lots as demand for new homes strengthens,” noted NAHB chairman Rick Judson.

Japanese Yen up on Finance Minister’s Comments (Reuters)
Despite, or perhaps because of, a disagreement between Japan’s prime minister and finance minister on the aggressiveness of the island nation’s monetary easing, the yen rose against both the U.S. dollar and the euro today. Taro Aso, the finance minister, is not considering buying foreign bonds, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe considers it an option. “The comments suggested that there may be growing differences between the prime minister and the finance minister, which could threaten the pace of policy easing going forward,” said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, D.C.