Wall Street in Search of Direction


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U.S. equity markets hovered in a tight range Tuesday as traders parsed through mixed data on the American economy.

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Today's Markets

As of 12:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial rose 14.4 points, or 0.09%, to 16087, the S&P 500 gained 1.4 points, or 0.08%, to 1804 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 13.6 points, or 0.34%, to 4008.

The housing market has been cited as a key component of the U.S. economic recovery. While the rebound has been patchy, the market had generally been improving at an increasing pace. However, concerns about when the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its vast bond-buying program caused interest rates to rise over the summer, putting pressure on the burgeoning rebound.

According to a S&P/Case Shiller report, home prices in 20 major U.S. cities rose 0.7% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in September, compared to estimates prices would at a slightly faster rate of 0.8%. Prices were up 13.3% year-over-year, the biggest increase since 2006.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said permits to construct new homes jumped 6.2% to an annual rate of 1.03 million units in October from the month prior, the highest reading since June 2008. Economists expected the number of permits to hit 930,000. The Commerce Department said housing starts for October will be released in December.

The Conference Board’s gauge of consumer confidence fell to 70.4 in November from 72.4 the month prior. Economists were looking for an increase to 72.9 The gauge has added significance since the key holiday shopping season is about to kick off on Black Friday.

On the corporate front, Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) shares rallied after the jewelry retailer posted considerably stronger-than-expected quarterly results. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is set to report after the closing bell.

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures climbed 41 cents, or 0.44%, to $94.50 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.28% to $2.688 a gallon. In metals, gold ticked higher by $4.60, or 0.39%, to $1,246 a troy ounce.

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