Wall Street gains on fresh data

Stocks rise as housing sector data helps overcome data showing weakened US consumer confidence.

News that consumer confidence fell in November cut somewhat into United States stock-market gains triggered earlier by positive signs on home prices and housing construction.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 32.78 points, or 0.20%, to 16,105.32 points, after rising as much as 36 points earlier in the session. On Monday, the Dow rose eight points, or less than 0.1%, but still posted its 10th record close this month, and 42nd this year.

The S&P 500 index gained 5.16 points, or 0.29%, to 1,807.64 points.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 25.53 points, or 0.64%, to 4,020.11 points.

The S&P 500 reached an all-time intraday high Monday before reversing to close down slightly. The Nasdaq Composite Index topped 4,000 intraday Monday for the first time in 13 years before paring gains to close below that level.

"This is a fractured week for economic news and trading itself," said Stephen Carl, head of US equity trading at Williams Capital Group in New York. "With the Thanksgiving holiday, volume is tapering off," he said.

Earlier in the day, data showed demand for home building permits jumped 6.2% in October to an adjusted annual rate of 1.034 million, the highest level in more than five years. Economists had projected a rise to a pace of 930,000. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20 City home-price index for September rose 13.3% on the year, slightly better than expectations for it to show a rise of 13%.

"This shows the housing sector is still moving along in the right direction, and not rolling over," said Nick Sargen, chief investment officer at Fort Washington Investment Advisors, which has about $45 billion in assets under management. "The sector is critical to the overall recovery story, so it is good to see some positive news."

Mr Sargen has recommended clients remain invested, but temper expectations. He said the market can still see upside, but that years of double-digit gains are likely going to be a thing of the past.

The Conference Board's consumer-confidence index for November unexpectedly fell to 70.4 from 71.2 in October. Economists expected the index to show a rise to 73.0. The Conference Board said uncertainty about future employment and income prospects could make this a challenging holiday season for retailers.

Art Hogan, managing director at brokerage firm Lazard Capital Markets, said he isn't expecting a lot of action ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, as a seasonally strong period for stocks bumps up against investors' urge to start realizing their gains for the year.

"We've got a pretty good reason for the market to trade sideways for the rest of this week," Mr Hogan said. "With the market trading at record highs, we would need a catalyst" to get the market moving again.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked down to 2.708% from 2.741% late Monday.

European markets were mostly lower. The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.4%, as investors awaited fresh cues after closing Monday at the second-highest level of the year. The UK's FTSE 100 index lost 0.6%, Germany's DAX 30 dropped less than 0.1% and France's CAC 40 gave up 0.5%.

In currency markets, the dollar lost ground against the euro, but erased earlier losses to trade slightly higher against the yen.

Front-month January oil futures added 0.2% to $94.24 a barrel, while gold futures bounced 0.3% to $1,245.30 an ounce after settling Monday at a 41/2-month low.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.7% to snap a three-session winning streak, in which the index jumped 3.6%. China's Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1% for its fourth-straight loss.

In corporate news, shares of Jos. A. Bank Clothiers jumped after Men's Wearhouse offered to buy the fellow men's clothing retailer for about $1.5 billion, two weeks after Jos. A. Bank dropped a bid for its larger rival. Men's Wearhouse is offering $55 a share in cash. Men's Wearhouse shares also gained.

Barnes & Noble sank after reporting that fiscal second-quarter profit jumped as the book retailer cut costs. Revenue declined more than expected.

Tiffany rallied after the luxury jewelry retailer reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue, raising its full-year earnings outlook. Sales grew across all of the regions where the retailer operates, and gross margins increased.

Chico's Fas gained after the women's apparel retailer's fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue fell short of analysts' estimates. Costlier promotional activity, a response to lower traffic, weighed on gross margins. Separately, the company increased its quarterly dividend by 36% to 7.5 cents a share.