Stocks ended yesterday’s trading session higher, with the Nasdaq closing at a high for the year.

Americans paid more for gas and rent in March, but broader inflationary pressures remained low amid a slowdown in the economy early in the new year.  The consumer price index jumped 0.4% in March to mark the biggest increase in 14 months, according to the government.

Rental home price growth is surging higher again, adding fresh urgency to policymakers’ considerations of how to address a worsening affordability crisis.  In March, the cost of rent was 3.7% higher than last year.  That’s the strongest annual growth in a year. What’s more, it’s still growing faster than wages, as average hourly wages grew 3.2% over the same time period.  In the aftermath of the recession, rental costs were subdued. But then household formation began to accelerate as the economy healed – but the housing industry didn’t. The U.S. now has a deficit of about 2.6 million housing units affordable to low- and moderate-income Americans.

The leaders of the biggest U.S. banks testified in a 7-hour hearing yesterday and they have a message for Congress: Take a closer look at the ballooning markets for student and corporate loans.  The House Financial Services Committee hearing asked what the banker’s thought were the products or markets that could threaten the U.S. financial system.  They all responded that leveraged lending and student loans, which are growing rapidly and deteriorating very rapidly.