NEW YORK - Wall Street focused on good news about the economy, sending stocks higher Tuesday.
After weeks of worrying over how the economy will weather a pullback in the Federal Reserve's stimulus, traders were encouraged by several reports.
U.S. businesses got more orders for long-lasting manufactured goods, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed year-over-year gains for the fourth straight month, a sign that housing continues to recover. And consumer confidence rose sharply in June to the highest level in more than five years, bolstered by an improving outlook for hiring, the Conference Board reported.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 115 points, or 0.8 percent, to 14,775 in the afternoon. The Standard & Poor's index was up 15 points, or 1 percent, to 1,588. The Nasdaq composite gained 22 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3343.
Bank stocks, which sank the day before, rose the most of the 10 industry groups in the index.
Homebuilders including Toll Brothers and KB Home rose after the Case-Shiller report. So did homebuilder Lennar, which also reported quarterly results that beat analysts' expectations. In the afternoon, Lennar was up 15 cents, 0.4 percent, to $35.14.
Investors appeared less worried about the Fed slowing its bond-buying program. Last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that he expects the central bank to stop buying $85 billion-a-month in bonds by the middle of 2014 if it feels the economy can manage without that stimulus.
Over the next four days, the Dow had three triple-digit selloffs. Since May 21, the day before Bernanke first hinted at a possible Fed pullback, the Dow has fallen 4 percent.
Jonathan Lewis, chief investment officer at Samson Capital Advisors, said he thought that the market's Tuesday morning gain was partly due to investors taking a less reactive view of the Fed's potential plans.
"This is the day," Lewis said, "where the dust appears to be settling."
Though Tuesday's economic news pushed stocks higher, that wasn't the guaranteed reaction. Investors have sold stocks after positive reports in recent weeks, afraid that the Fed would pull back on its stimulus too quickly.
Stocks could fall later this week because the second quarter ends Friday, and money managers need to book profits for their clients.
The stronger economic news led investors to sell U.S. government bonds, a sign that they're more comfortable putting money in stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for many types of loans, rose to 2.59 percent from 2.54 percent late Monday. That's part of a longer-term trend: Investors have been selling bonds in anticipation of the Fed winding down its bond-buying program.
Earlier in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index pulled back from steeper losses to close down 3.73 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,959.51. The index fell 5 percent the day before, its biggest loss in four years.
The index recovered after China's central bank tried to quell fears that the country faces a credit crisis.
The central bank promised "liquidity support" if needed after a shortage of money in credit markets caused the interest rate that banks must pay to borrow from each other to spike last week.
The price of gold fell $2.20 to $1,274 an ounce, and the price of crude oil rose 5 cents to $95.23 a barrel.
Among stocks making big moves:
- Walgreen, the nation's largest drugstore chain, slipped after reporting earnings and revenue that missed analysts' expectations. Walgreen's stock fell $3.08, or 6.4 percent, to $44.97.
- Barnes & Noble dipped after reporting a loss that more than doubled in the latest quarter. The bookseller struggled to compete with online retailers and its Nook e-book continues to lose money. The stock fell $3.34, or 17.7 percent, to $15.48.
- Clothing chain Men's Wearhouse rose after saying it had fired executive chairman George Zimmer, the company's founder and star of its TV commercials, because he had advocated for "significant changes that would enable him to regain control." The stock rose $1.97, or 5.6 percent, to $37.10.