The Dow rose for a sixth straight session Tuesday as stocks got a boost from an encouraging report on home prices and an unexpected jump in consumer confidence.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 30.01, or 0.3 percent, to close at 9,539.29, its highest close since November. The S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq advanced 0.3 percent, ending at their highest levesl since October.
This came after major averages finished little changed on Monday: The Dow managed to eke out a three-point gain for its fifth straight winning session, but the Nasdaq index and S&P 500 index finished the day slightly lower.
The Conference Board reported its gauge of consumer confidence jumped to 54.1in August from an upwardly revised 47.4 in July. Economists had expected a milder uptick to 47.5, according to a Reuters survey.
"The missing ingredient has been the recovery in consumer spending. The market is now hopeful that the strong consumer confidence data could lead to better consumer spending numbers," Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services, told Reuters.
Home prices rose 1.4 percentin June from May, the second straight monthly increase. However, prices were still down 15 percent from a year earlier.
That news gave a boost to homebuilder stocks: Hovnanian gained 6.5 percent, while Pulte Homes advanced 3.5 percent.
The Treasury auctioned off $42 billion in 2-year notes today, and it was met with mediocre demand. The high yield was 1.119 percent and the bid-to-cover ratio was 2.68.
Still to come are a five-year auction on Wednesday and a seven-year auction on Thursday. All told, this week's auctions will total $109 billion.
The other big news was that President Obama officially reappointed Ben Bernankefor another term as Federal Reserve chairman. There had been speculation that White House economic advisor Lawrence Summers might be tapped for the job, but Obama opted to reappoint Bernanke.
Bernanke's next challenge will be presiding over the recovery, economists said.
“The next phase is almost as difficultas the first one he presided over in saving the economy from a deeper recession or worse,” FAO chief economist Robert Brusca said.
Banks finished mostly higher, with Bank of America up 2.3 percent.
A day after he said 150 to 200 more banks are going to fail before it's all over, Rochdale analyst Dick Bove widened his full-year loss projection for Morgan Stanley , saying the brokerage is increasing risk and personnel without justification and that it "continues to fail to articulate a strategy."
Still, Morgan Stanley shares gained 1.8 percent.
The companies, which were nationalized by the government last fall to keep them from going under, have seen their shares more than double — and in the case of Freddie, nearly triple — since the beginning of the year.
ThinkEquity raised its rating on Google to "buy" from "source of funds" and raised its price target on the stock, saying it expects the search giant to meet or beat consensus estimates for the next few quarters. Its shares gained 0.5 percent.
The final remnants of earnings season continued to trickle in.
Burger King shares climbed 0.7 percent after the fast-food giant reported its profit increased as food costs declined.
Big Lots shot up 6.5 percent after the close-out retailer beat Wall Street expectations with what has become familiar theme for the second quarter: Sales fell but cost-cutting helped the bottom line numbers.
Staples , however, skidded 1.8 percent after the office-supply chain reported a 38 percent drop in quarterly profits as both costs and sales rose.
Volume was light, with 1.14 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 3 to 2.
Still to come this week: More than $100 billion in Treasury auctions, a report on bailout executive pay, durable-goods orders, new-home sales, the second reading on second-quarter GDP, personal income and spending, consumer confidence and spending, and earnings from Dell and Tiffany.