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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Home prices jump, Cypriots protest bank closures, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Spurred by rising prices, Phoenix is experiencing a new housing boom.
Spurred by rising prices, Phoenix is experiencing a new housing boom. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. HOME PRICES LEAP
In the latest sign that the housing recovery is gathering strength, home prices rose in January by the most since June 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities. Prices jumped by 8.1 percent over the same month a year earlier, after posting 6.8 percent gain for all of 2012. The January increase was slightly higher than the median forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. All 20 cities included in the study saw at least some improvement. Phoenix posted the best numbers of all, with a 23.2 percent surge. [Bloomberg]
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2. CYPRUS SCHEDULES BANKS TO REOPEN THURSDAY
Thousands of young Cypriots and bank workers protested a decision to keep banks closed until Thursday, a move intended to prevent a run on banks following the approval of the Mediterranean nation's $13 billion bailout plan. Cyprus' banks are now scheduled to reopen on Thursday. They have been closed since March 16 to prevent a run by customers desperate to get their money out after Europe's initial rescue plan called for a one-time tax on all accounts to help pay for the bailout, which is needed to prevent the banks from collapsing. The new plan only drains money from deposits over $130,000, which will remain frozen. [Reuters, BBC News]
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3. CONSUMERS LOSE CONFIDENCE
Consumer confidence sank in March as Americans continued to fret about the economy despite modest improvement, the Conference Board reported on Tuesday. The Consumer Confidence Index fell to 59.7 from a revised reading of 68 in February, falling short of expectations and far below the reading of 90 that is considered a sign of a healthy economy. The federal government's $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts helped fuel the growing anxiety, according to the Conference Board, a private research group. [Associated Press]
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4. BUFFETT BECOMES HUGE GOLDMAN SACHS SHAREHOLDER
Warren Buffett is expected to become one of the top 10 shareholders in Goldman Sachs after agreeing to trade in billions of dollars in warrants for stock. During the financial crisis in 2008, Goldman gave Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway the right to buy $5 billion worth of common shares, at $115, by Oct. 1. In return, Buffett, one of the world's most revered investors, gave the bank his confidence-instilling seal of approval. Now, Goldman is giving Buffett 9-million-plus shares to reflect the difference between the warrant price and the stock's more recent value — it closed at $146.11 on Friday. The deal will make Buffett Goldman's ninth biggest shareholder. [New York Times]
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5. GOOGLE FIGHTS THE SWEDISH LANGUAGE
The Language Council of Sweden has dropped "ungoogleable" from its list of new words for 2012, after a complaint from Google, the council said Tuesday. The word — "ogooglebar" — isn't in the Swedish dictionary, but it's commonly used to describe something "that cannot be found on the web with a search engine." Google objected, asking for specific mention of its search engine and a disclaimer pointing out that Google is a registered trademark. The council decided to drop the definition rather than change it, noting "our displeasure with Google's attempts to control the language." [Associated Press]

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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