On a positive note, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae said that home prices may be bottoming in the United States as government efforts to bolster the market may finally be making traction.  The news sent the  iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate (IYR) up nearly 0.2% in morning trading.

On a different note, Bernie Madoff faced a Federal District Court Judge this morning where victims testified against him in hopes of convincing authorities to maximize sentencing. The testimony appeared to have the desired impact: Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Crude oil oscillated to a hair above $70/barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on news that militants in Nigeria attacked an offshore oil platform, forcing production to be partially shut down.  Traders are wary of the fate of black gold and waiting for the release of key economic indicators later this week.  The US Oil Fund (USO) was up 2.7% in morning trading.

Overall, all three major U.S. indices were up in morning trading.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.1%, the S&P 500 added nearly 1% and the Nasdaq was up about 0.3%.

Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.

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