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US stocks end higher for second day on housing data, Putin words

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, extending the prior day's jump, after upbeat data on the U.S. economy and after Vladimir Putin said Russia was not looking to divide Ukraine.

"Data points are still pointing in the same direction; the housing starts were a nice step up from January," said Chip Cobb, portfolio manager, BMT Asset Management, Bryn Mawr, Penn.

The Department of Commerce on Tuesday reported housing starts in February were down 0.2 percent from January and off 6.4 percent from the year-ago month, while a rebound in building permits offered hope for the housing market emerging from a soft patch.

Addressing the Russian parliament, Putin said Russia was not looking to take control of more of Ukraine after approving a plan to make Crimea a part of Russia after a referendum viewed as illegal by the United States and the European Union, which imposed sanctions on officials accused of taking part in Russia's military takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.

"Whether Putin is going to keep pressing hard on this thing or not, I think the market is starting to look away from that. What we don't want is to head into some type of crazy, Cold-War type of conversation," Cobb said.

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After a 122-point climb, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 88.97 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,336.19, with Microsoft leading blue-chip gains after reports its CEO would unveil soon a version of Office for the iPad.

Health care paced sector gains and utilities were the poorest performing among the 10 major sectors on the S&P 500, which came within 5 points of its March 7 record close, and ended up 13.42 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,872.25.

GameStop shares fell after Wal-Mart Stores said it planned to broaden its video-game trade-in program to its stores.

The Nasdaq rose 53.36 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,333.31.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a measure of investor uncertainty, fell 7.2 percent to 14.52.

For every share that fell, more than three gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 586 million shares traded. Composite volume cleared 2.9 billion.

The dollar rose against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners; the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell 2 basis points to 2.673 percent.

Oil futures for April delivery added $1.62, or 1.7 percent, to $99.70 a barrel; gold futures for April delivery fell $13.90, or 1 percent, to $1,359.

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday started a two-day policy-setting session, with the central bank expected to continue tapering asset purchases.

Another report Tuesday had the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index edging up 0.1 percent last month as a drop in gasoline costs offset an increase in the price of food.

On Monday, stocks jumped, with the Dow industrials bouncing back from a five-session rout, after voting in Crimea passed without violence and U.S. manufacturing output rose the most in six months.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:

Wednesday

Earnings: FedEx, Guess, HermanMiller, KB Home, General Mills

7:00 a.m.: Mortgage applications

8:30 a.m.: Current account

10:30 a.m.: EIA oil inventories

2:00 p.m.: FOMC statement and projections

2:30 p.m.: Fed Chair Janet Yellen press briefing

Thursday

Earnings: Nike, Scholastic, Lennar, Silver Wheaton

8:30 a.m.: Initial claims

10:00 a.m.: Existing homes

10:00 a.m.: Philadelphia Fed survey

10:00 a.m.: Leading indicators

10:30 a.m.: EIA natural gas

Friday

Earnings: Darden Restaurants, Tiffany

11:45 a.m.: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard

1:45 p.m.: Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher

4:30 p.m.: Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota

6:30 p.m.: Fed Gov. Jerome Stein

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