Wall Street closed higher for the second consecutive session on Tuesday, as strong housing data and robust earnings from Home Depot overshadowed lingering concerns about the conflict in Ukraine.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 81 points, or 0.48%, to close at 16,920. The S&P 500 gained 10 points, or 0.50%, to end at 1,982. The Nasdaq Composite added 19 points, or 0.43%, to finish at 4,528, its highest close since 31 March, 2000.
Encouraging data on the economic front gave the market another boost. Housing starts posted their strongest rebound in eight months in July, topping expectations and adding another data point to suggest optimism is returning among homebuilders.
That helped investors gain confidence in the face of continuing tensions along the Ukraine-Russia border, which have pressured markets for weeks.
Apple Inc was among the most heavily traded names of the day after the stock hit $100 for the first time since its seven-for-one split in June. The stock climbed 1.4% to a new split-adjusted closing high of $100.53.
Consumer discretionary shares led advances in the S&P 500 as a string of positive earnings reports lifted the stocks of major retailers.
Home Depot Inc rose 5.6%, its largest daily percentage gain since May 2009. The rally occurred after the world's largest home improvement retailer beat Wall Street's earnings expectations. Shares of Lowe’s Cos, a Home Depot rival, rose 2.1%.
Quarterly results sent shares of discount retailer TJX Cos Inc up 8.7% and pushed Dick's Sporting Goods shares up 1.6%.
On the negative side, shares of Elizabeth Arden Inc plunged 23.3% after the company reported the biggest quarterly loss in its history.
In Asia, shares were little changed on Wednesday in morning trade after data showed the US economy is strengthening and inflation is running below the Federal Reserve’s target.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell less than 0.1% to 149 as of 9:50 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index climbed 0.1% after exports rose more than estimated in July while imports unexpectedly increased.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.2%, retreating from the highest close since May 2008. Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.2% and Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi index slipped 0.1%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.5%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.2%.