Wall Street Higher as Traders Parse Economic Data

Associated Press

The Standard & Poor's 500 index appeared headed for its first close above 2,000 points Tuesday afternoon, a day after finishing just short of the milestone. Other major U.S. stock indexes also were building on their gains from the day before as encouraging economic news put investors in a buying mood.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,002 as of 2:24 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 54 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,131, just seven points below its own record closing high set on July 16. The Nasdaq composite gained 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,572.

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BROKEN RECORDS: As of Monday, the S&P 500 index has closed at a new high 29 times this year. That's ahead of the 25 it racked up by the same time last year, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. More than half the time, a record close is followed the next day by another.

ECONOMIC BOOST: The Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index rose this month to the highest point in nearly seven years. Strong job gains helped boost the index, which has been rising for four months. A separate report showed that orders of durable manufactured goods surged by a record 22.6 percent in July, thanks to a jump in aircraft sales.

THE QUOTE: The reports signal that the economy is accelerating, said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.

"It's the positive catalyst that economic growth is improving that has helped drive the market to its record highs and will probably continue to push it higher," she said.

HOUSING RED FLAG? A key housing market barometer shows U.S. home prices increased at a slower pace in June. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 8.1 percent in June from a year earlier. That's down from a 9.4 percent gain in May. The deceleration should help ease some of the price pressures on would-be buyers.

GAMING PLAY: Amazon rose 2.8 percent after saying that it would buy video streaming company Twitch for $970 million. The stock climbed $9.26 to $343.28.

SALES SLUMP: Best Buy fell $2.12, or 6.6 percent, to $29.87 after the electronics retailer reported that its fiscal second-quarter net income plunged 45 percent as sales weakened.

TRAVEL TURBULENCE: Shares in Orbitz fell 7 percent after American Airlines and US Airways disclosed they are pulling flight listings from the site because they have not been able to reach agreement on a long-term contract with the travel booking website operator. Orbitz shed 59 cents to $7.84.

SECTOR WATCH: Eight of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index moved higher, led by energy. Industrial and utilities stocks fell. Affiliated Managers Group climbed the most among stocks in the S&P 500, adding $9.16, or 4.5 percent, to $213.41.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.40 percent. U.S. crude for October delivery rose 53 cents to $93.88 a barrel. In metals trading, gold rose $6.30 to $1,285.20 an ounce, silver rose three cents to $19.39 an ounce and copper fell three cents to $3.19 a pound.