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Markets sing with help from housing

The U.S. stock market had a banner month in January, and it reached another milestone at Friday’s closing bell. Analysts say the surging housing market had something to do with it.

PETER O’DOWD: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S & P 500 haven’t had such strong performances in January since the 1990s. Then on Friday, the Dow hit another mark when it closed above 14-thousand for the first time in about six years. Brent McQuiston is a senior advisor with Wealth-Trust Arizona. He says consumer confidence stabilized after Congress found a temporary fix to the debate over the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling.

BRENT MCQUISTON: That put a little bit of a floor in the market and gave it a little spring at least for the next few months it looks like.

O’DOWD: Analysts also say the housing market helped boost financial markets. Late last week, Scottsdale-based Meritage Homes said orders for new homes went up 41 percent in 2012, compared to the year before. Brent Anderson is a Meritage VP for Investor relations.

BRENT ANDERSON: ‘12 was a lot stronger year than most of our peer home builders would have expected coming into the year -- certainly stronger than we expected coming into the year.

O’DOWD: Meritage is positioned for expansion. The company says it invested $480 million last year in land and development. That includes the acquisition of 9,000 new lots. Anderson expects 20 percent growth in 2013. But that could change:

ANDERSON: Purchasing a home is a confident move. Anything that impacts buyer confidence can certainly impact home sales.

O’DOWD: Analysts say there is bound to be more uncertainty in the nation’s economy in the next few months as lawmakers grapple again with decisions about debt and spending.