Wall Street lifts on earnings, data

US stocks close higher on strong data and continuation of positive earnings season.

US stocks rose Tuesday, getting a lift from strong housing data and upbeat corporate earnings.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 61.81 points, or 0.36%, to 17,113.54. The S&P 500 index gained 9.90 points, or 0.50%, to end at 1,983.53 after hitting a new intraday record during the session.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 31.31 points, or 0.71%, to 4,456.02.

Stock trading has been choppy in recent days as investors evaluate corporate earnings reports to gauge whether the market can continue pushing to new highs. The Dow topped 17,000 for the first time earlier this month and the S&P 500 is hovering within striking distance of the 2,000 level, with gains fueled by improving economic data and low interest rates.

Eighty three of the 116 companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings as of Tuesday's close have beat expectations, according to FactSet. For the Dow, 11 companies of the 14 that have reported have topped estimates.

There has been "a really healthy earnings picture for US corporations so far," said Michael Marrale, head of research, sales and trading at brokerage firm ITG.

Stock gains accelerated Tuesday after data showed sales of existing homes rose 2.6% to an annual rate of 5.04 million in June, beating expectations of an annual pace of 5 million. The reading was the highest since October.

"One of the questions of the economic recovery this year is why is housing so slow. [The report] is a good confirmation that the recovery is intact," said John Fox, co-manager of the FAM Value Fund, which manages about $US950 million.

The Labor Department reported that US consumer prices rose 0.3% in June from a month earlier, in line with expectations. Investors said the data were likely to ease speculation about rising inflation prompting a sooner-than-expected increase in interest rates. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has brushed off the recent rise in inflation, saying the data are "noisy."

"The main thing is that the inflation environment looks relatively benign," said John Brady, managing director of institutional sales at RJ O'Brien & Associates. That should continue to add to the appeal of stocks, he added.

In corporate news, shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill surged 12% after the dining chain's second-quarter results beat expectations.

Ingersoll-Rand reported a 4.3% increase in revenue and lifted its 2014 outlook. Shares rose 4.3%.

Coca-Cola Co shares fell 2.9% after the company posted a decline in second-quarter profit and revenue.

Herbalife shares jumped 25.5%, recovering from Monday's 11% drop. Hedge-fund manager William Ackman on Tuesday gave his latest presentation describing why he's betting that the company's shares will fall.

Shares of Apache rose 4.6%. Activist investor Jana Partners is urging the oil and gas producer to spin off its international holdings.

"There's a silent partner in every boardroom," said Mr Fox of the FAM Value Fund, referring to the potential for activist investors. The presence of these investors, as well as modest economic growth, low interest rates and corporate profitability, has made him positive on the outlook for stocks, he said.

European shares rebounded, pushing the Stoxx Europe 600 up 1.3%. In Asia, the Hang Seng Index ended at its highest level since December.

In commodity markets, gold futures fell 0.6% to $US1,306.10 an ounce, while crude-oil futures declined 0.2% to $US104.42 a barrel.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.466%.