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UPDATE: Stocks gain after strong housing data; Apple sails past $100

UPDATE: Stocks gain after strong housing data; Apple sails past $100

08/19/2014

By Victor Reklaitis and Wallace Witkowski, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks advanced Tuesday after a better-than-expected jump in July housing starts and upbeat earnings reports, and Apple Inc. shares flirted with all-time, post-split highs.

Home Depot Inc. (HD) was the biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after the retailer's quarterly results topped forecasts, and Apple (AAPL) moved up to levels last seen in September 2012.

The S&P 500 (SPX) climbed 9 points, or 0.5%, to 1,981, while the Dow industrials(DJI) rose 78 points, or 0.5%, to 16,917. The S&P 500 is nearing its July 24 record close of 1,987.98.

The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) advanced 14 points, or 0.3%, to 4,522 after the tech-laden index on Monday scored its highest close since March 31, 2000.

The Commerce Department on Tuesday said construction on U.S. new homes rose 15.7% in July to an annual rate of 1.09 million versus 973,000 in June. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had penciled in July starts of 975,000. The decline in new construction in June also was revised to a much smaller drop.

"I think investors will be encouraged to an extent by the revisions in the data," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers. He also said geopolitical concerns seem to be receding, even though there's no resolution in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and that "just gives added impetus to the bulls."

In other economic news, the Labor Department said U.S. consumer prices rose 0.1% in July, matching forecasts.

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