Nightly News | January 25, 2013
>>> good evening. the evidence is now unmistakable unmistakable. aspects of the u.s. economy after a long and difficult period of darkness appear to be getting more robust. and while there are lots of numbers out to prove the point of an improving economy, problem is, of course, it's hardly being felt by all americans . but first, the good news, and it's substantial. here are the stock indexes at closing time today. all three closed up. stocks, by the way, are nearing an all-time high on wall street . on the housing front, u.s. builders started work on new homes last month at the fastest rate since the summer of '08. and finally, the number of americans seeking unemployment has fallen to a five-year low. we start off by getting more on all of it tonight from nbc's john yang in chicago. john, good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. the signs are small, and they're far from conclusive. and we have had had false starts before. but economists are pointing to data that suggests that maybe, just maybe, we could be in for stronger economic growth this year, which has already started off with a bang. today, the stock market winning streak marked its fourth straight week. and this week, encouraging signs on jobs and higher home prices . today, the government reported that sales of new homes shot up nearly 20% in 2012 , and home prices went up almost 14%.
>> this is the new pricing power.
>> reporter: diano i can covers for cnbc.
>> it's nowhere near where we need it to be. half the housing starts as we would be in a normal year.
>> reporter: 2012 home sales were only a third of the record set in 2005 . any improvement is good news for true berry custom homes outside columbus, ohio. they haven't been this busy since the housing bubble burst in 2006 .
>> we are very excited. last year was good. we're expecting this year to be great.
>> reporter: on wall street , the dows finished each week of the new year higher than it began. up 112% since its recession low in march, 2009 , and poised to set a new record high, perhaps as soon as next week. that's encouraging for americans who have an estimated $6.5 trillion of their retirement savings tied up in stocks. analysts say the rally began after washington policymakers avoided the fiscal cliff and has continued as investors chase higher stock prices.
>> and that light bulb goes off, and people say, hey, wait a minute, the market really is getting better. maybe the economy is getting better. that train is leaving the station. i better not let it leave without me.
>> reporter: is the economy about to gain momentum? there's still potential pitfalls. rising mortgage rates and tight lending could threaten housing and unforeseen political or economic events could topple stock prices. but some analysts say the stage is set.
>> we have made a lot of adjustments, and now the economy really has some breathing space to really improve.
>> reporter: another potential speed bump to economic growth is the increase in payroll taxes, which is just beginning to show up. but some analysts say they hope it will be offset by new jobs and the new wages that come with them. brian?
>> john yang starting us off in chicago tonight . john, thanks.