Money Minute: Rents Go Sky High; Netflix, Amazon Content War Erupts

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The cost of apartment rentals is going up faster than the rate of inflation.

A real estate research firm says apartment rents have jumped 3.2 percent from a year ago. It's a simple matter of supply and demand. More young people are finding jobs and leaving their parents home or the group living arrangement they've been in, while the vacancy rate continues to decline. And experts say this trend is likely to continue.

Americans are much more optimistic about their personal finances than they were just six months ago. A newly launched index from the Consumer Bankers Association and AOL -- the parent of Daily Finance -- finds many of us have shaken off the slumber brought on the government shutdown last fall. Since then, the stock market has rallied and the nation's employment picture has brightened.

The content war between Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon.com (AMZN) is on. Amazon's Prime Video Service has won the latest skirmish, getting exclusive rights to the upcoming encore series of the Fox TV (FOX) hit, "24."
The 12 episode Jack Bauer sequel, "24: Live Another Day," begins on May 5th. Amazon also gets exclusive rights to all 192 episodes of the hit TV drama. Amazon recently won the rights to two other hit TV series, even though they may not appeal to same audience: "Downton Abbey" and "Spongebob SquarePants."

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 75 points Tuesday, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) jumped 69, and Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 13 points, hitting its seventh record high this year. And the Dow is within 44 points of the all-time high it set on Dec. 31 last year.

Finally, Starbucks (SBUX) is responding to customer complaints and bringing back some menu items. You'll soon be able to buy slices of banana, pumpkin or lemon loaf cake. The breakfast market is heating up, and as Bloomberg notes, Starbucks wants to provide fancier offerings than fast-food competitors, without getting too fancy.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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