Bullish sentiment took hold of markets as stocks charged higher--albeit on thin volume--with auto and homebuilding shares leading the way.
The Dow closed in record territory, above 12,500 for the first time, after the government reported new-home sales rose more than expected in November. The news fueled a rally in homebuilder stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up more than 16% year-to-date, the Nasdaq is up just over 10% for the year and the S&P 500 is higher by about 14%.
So far the Dow has posted the best quarterly gain in two years. Dow leaders included IBM ,Citigroup , ExxonMobil and Merck.
The New York Stock Exchange opened following a moment of silence in tribute to former President Gerald R. Ford, who died Tuesday night. The Nasdaq and the NYMEX observed a moment of silence at 11 am New York Time.
Shares of home builders all gained more than 1%, with the overall Dow Jones Home Construction index gaining 10 points, or 1.4%, to 729.58. The index has lost 21% this year, and is down about 35% from its high in July 2005.