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Stocks edge higher ... Home prices up...Storms cause travel delays

Wednesday - 12/26/2012, 11:40am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks have opened modestly higher on Wall Street as traders return from the Christmas holiday. Markets in Europe are still closed. Traders are watching to see if a budget agreement materializes in Washington. President Barack Obama is ending his Christmas holiday in Hawaii and returning to Washington later today so he'll be available to resume budget talks with Congressional Republicans.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's another sign the housing market is improving. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Schiller index released this morning shows prices in 20 major U.S. cities rose 4.3 percent in October, up from a 3 percent annual gain in September. That's the largest year-over-year increase in two and a-half years.

NEW YORK (AP) -- A massive winter storm is disrupting travel plans for fliers trying to get home after Christmas. Snow, thunderstorms, sleet, tornados and high winds have grounded planes in the nation's midsection and are expected to slow operations on the East Coast. By 9 a.m. this morning, more than 400 flights nationwide had been scrapped with more cancelations likely throughout the day.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks is jumping into the political fray in Washington. The world's largest coffee chain is asking employees at cafes in the Washington, D.C. area to scribble the words "Come Together" on cups for drink orders. CEO Howard Schultz says the words are intended as a message to lawmakers about the damage being caused by the divisive negotiations over the "fiscal cliff." This is the first time Starbucks employees are being asked to write anything other than customers' names on cups.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The film industry is reporting a record year for 2012 with Hollywood taking in $10.8 billion. And according to box-office tracker, the number of tickets sold went up for the first time in three years. The year was led by a pair of superhero sagas with Disney's "The Avengers" taking in $623 million domestically and the Warner Bros. Batman finale "The Dark Knight Rises" amassing $448 million in domestic ticket sales.

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