US stocks higher amid mixed economic data

NEW YORK: US stocks marched higher Tuesday despite a mixed bag of economic indicators showing strength in the housing market but a fall in consumer confidence.

An hour into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 104.27 (0.72 percent) to 14,552.02.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 9.25 (0.60 percent) to 1,560.94, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 14.18 (0.44 percent) to 3,249.48.

The gains came after S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index showed average home prices rose 8.1 percent for 20 leading cities for the 12 months ending in January 2013, the highest year-over-year increase since summer 2006.

Analysts also pointed to a report on durable goods orders, which rose 5.7 percent in February, more than the 3.9 percent projected, though orders fell marginally after volatile transportation goods — mainly aircraft — are stripped out.

The Conference Board index of consumer confidence meanwhile dropped 8.3 points to 59.7, weakened by concerns over federal budget cuts. Dow member Boeing added 2.2 percent after announcing that a first test flight of its troubled 787 aircraft went according to plan. The aerospace giant hopes to soon return the grounded aircraft to service.

Intel rose 1.7 percent on reports that the chipmaker is making progress in talks with entertainment companies to provide content for an online pay-TV service.

The Children’s Place Retail Stores, which sells children’s clothing, fell 2.4 percent after issuing earnings guidance well below expectations. The company cited “unfavorable weather and weak macro-economic” conditions that limited consumer spending.

Ziopharm Oncology, a biopharmaceutical company focused on new cancer therapies, sank 63.8 percent after its most advanced product fell short of expectations in a trial.

Bond prices dropped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.93 percent from 1.92 percent late Monday, while the 30-year inched higher to 3.15 percent from 3.14 percent Monday. Bond prices move inversely to yields.