Strong Consumer, Housing Data Propel Stocks Higher

FOX Business: Capitalism Live Here 

A batch of much better-than-expected data on the U.S. consumer and housing sectors sent stocks roaring higher on Tuesday.

Today's Markets 

As of 3:21 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 118 points, or 0.77%, to 15421, the S&P 500 climbed 11 points, or 0.67%, to 1661 and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 28.8 points, or 0.83%, to 3487.

The markets snapped a four-week winning streak last week, posting mild losses amid concerns about when the Federal Reserve will begin paring back its massive bond-buying program. However, the mood across global trading desks was considerably rosier as traders in the U.S. returned from the long weekend.

Indeed, in a sign of the strength of the shift into risky assets, the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond jumped to 2.097% -- its highest level of 2013 as traders ditched the safety of U.S. debt. Every sector besides utilities was in the green, led by economically-sensitive issues like energy, financials and industrials and consumer cyclicals.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas showed home prices rose 1.4% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in March, compared with the 0.7% gain economists were expecting. Prices are up 10.9% from the same month a year ago. Home prices have started rebounding after collapsing when the bubble burst five years ago.

Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays, noted that every one of the 20 markets the index tracked were up for four consecutive months, in what he deemed "another strong signal that momentum in the U.S. housing market remains in place." Gapen said he expects the rebound in the housing market to add to gross domestic product in coming quarters.

The Conference Board's gauge of U.S. consumer confidence rose to 76.2 in May from 69 in April, topping economists' estimates of 71 and marking the highest reading since February 2008. This comes on the back of a considerably stronger-than-expected preliminary reading on consumer sentiment from Reuters and the University of Michigan.

Benchmark stock-market indexes in the UK, Germany and France all jumped more than 1% on the back of remarks from key European Central Bank officials suggesting the central bank would consider cutting interest rates further if the 17-member currency bloc's economy continues deteriorating. Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda also made remarks suggesting the BoJ is likely to shrug off rising government bond rates and continue its super-aggressive monetary policy.

Adding to the good-mood feeling, Moody’s Investors Service upped its outlook on the U.S. banking system to "stable" from "negative." The ratings company’s outlook had been "negative" since the financial crisis in 2008.

In commodities, oil prices were solidly higher. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract rallied 86 cents, or 0.91%, to $95.01 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline advanced 0.49% to $2.853 a gallon. Gold slipped $7.80, or 0.56%, to $1,380 a troy ounce.

On the corporate front, Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) blew away Wall Street expectations in the first quarter, sending its shares flying higher. Fidelity National Financial (NYSE:FNF) revealed plans to buy Lender Processing Services (NYSE:LPS) for $2.9 billion in stock and cash.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 jumped 1.4% to 2834, the English FTSE 100 rallied 1.6% to 6762 and the German DAX zipped higher by 1.2% to 8483.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 gained 1.2% to 14312 and the Chinese Hang Seng climbed 1.1% to 22924.