US stocks post small gains
NEW YORK — US stocks scored small gains Wednesday as investors weighed encouraging housing data and falling crude oil prices that stoked hopes for more growth in the tepid economy.
The stock indexes opened mixed but found positive momentum after existing-home sales data beat expectations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 13.32 points (0.10 percent) to close at 13,577.96.
The S&P 500-stock index rose 1.73 (0.12 percent) to 1,461.05, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 4.82 (0.15 percent) at 3,182.62.
The National Association of Realtors announced that existing-home sales across the country leaped 7.8 percent from July to a two-year high, and were up 9.3 percent from a year ago.
“We’re still getting continued decent news on housing,” said Lee Munson at Portfolio LLC.
Crude oil prices tumbled on speculation that Saudi Arabia would boost output to cool prices. Brent, the global market benchmark, dropped almost $4 to $108.19 a barrel.
The steep fall in oil prices gives investors confidence that going forward, commodity prices would not hammer company earnings, Munson said.
Home builders in particular benefited from a separate report from the Commerce Department showing housing starts rose 2.3 percent from July, including a 5.5 percent jump in starts on single-family homes.
DR Horton gained 4.1 percent, Lennar 1.9 percent, Pulte 4.3 percent and Toll Brothers 3.5 percent.
In the automotive sector, Ford added 1.6 percent, GM 1.3 percent and truck maker Oshkosh 2.8 percent, all in the wake of the resolution of a looming strike by the Canadian Auto Workers union.
Online daily deals pioneer Groupon soared 13.9 percent after announcing a mobile payment service.
Apple held above the $700 line, adding 0.03 percent at $702.10.
Sprint Nextel, one of the telecoms firms that will offer Apple’s new iPhone 5 on its network, leaped 7.1 percent.
Auto parts dealer AutoZone meanwhile gained 3.4 percent after beating analyst estimates for fourth-quarter profits, which rose 7.4 percent to $323.7 million.
Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.78 percent from 1.81 percent Tuesday, while the 30-year was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
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