A U.S. economy that was supposed to be barely hanging on is starting to look surprisingly robust.
Housing prices rose faster over the past year than they have in the past seven, according to data out Tuesday. Consumer confidence hit its highest level in five years. The stock market rallied another 0.6 percent as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500, leaving it just short of an all-time high reached last week. And the national retail price of gasoline fell for six days straight through Monday and is down 16 cents a gallon since late February.
It adds up to this reality: In a year when tax increases and spending cuts by the federal government were expected to bleed life out of the economy, the strengthening housing and financial markets are proving to be more powerful than acts of Congress.