The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested offers around the US$ 1.4455 level and was supported around the $1.4355 level.  U.S. equity markets were marginally stronger through mid-day North American trading.  Data released in the U.S. today saw December consumer confidence improve to a weaker-than-expected 52.9 from a revised November reading of 50.6, the third consecutive monthly increase.  Also, the October CaseShiller home price index was off 7.28% y/y, an improvement from September's -9.27% decline.  Nonetheless, this represented the fifth consecutive month of increases in housing prices.  Tomorrow, the December Chicago purchasing manager index will be released followed by Thursday's data releases of weekly initial jobless claims and continuing jobless claims.  Yesterday, the Federal Reserve announced measures to absorb some of the US$ 1 trillion in excess reserves in the U.S. banking system.  The program would involve selling term deposits in which excess cash would be put aside, easing downward pressure on the federal funds rate.  The new program may be used in conjunction with the Fed's previously announced plan to conduct reverse repo operations.  Assets on the Fed's balance sheet were little changed at US$ 2.24 trillion in the latest week.  In eurozone news, the European Central Bank reported lending to banks rose €5.6 billion to €728.6 billion.  ECB member Mersch reported the eurozone economic recovery looks moderate and precarious.  In contrast, ECB member Kranjec reported there are signs the global economic crisis is over.  Data released in Germany saw provisional December consumer price inflation move higher by 0.9% m/m and 0.8% y/y, taking the annual average inflation rate for 2009 to 0.2%.  Also, France reported the Q3 final gross domestic product was up 0.3% q/q and off 2.3% y/y. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.3885 level.