Stocks higher, helped by retail and housing stocks

US stocks higher after strong earnings from Tiffany & Co.; homebuilder shares rise

Associated Press
Dow, S&P 500 nudge higher; Nasdaq ends above 4,000
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FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2013 file photo, trader Patrick McKeon, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, after a lull in Wall Street's record-breaking run ahead of a U.S. holiday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Upbeat news from the housing industry and luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. helped lift the stock market Tuesday.

Homebuilder shares surged after the Commerce Department reported that approvals for housing permits rose in October at the fastest pace in five years. Those applications indicate that builders expect heightened demand.

Tiffany & Co. rose the most in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. The jewelry chain rose $7.31, or 9 percent, to $88.30 after it said third-quarter earnings jumped because of strong sales in Asia. The company also raised its full-year forecast.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,105 as of 1:40 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,808. The Nasdaq composite added 27 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,022.

Most of the growth in the housing report came from apartment permits, not homes, but investors felt the report was positive.

"It's going to translate into job creation once those permits turn into actual construction," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist with Prudential Financial.

In other housing news, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.7 percent from August to September, down from a 1.3 percent gain from July to August.

Shares of Pulte, Toll Brothers and Lennar all rose 3 percent or more.

Trading remained light during a holiday-shortened week. Stock and bond markets are closed Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving. On Friday, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will close early.

Investors are paying close attention to any details from retailers as Black Friday approaches.

Due to the lateness of Thanksgiving, the holiday shopping season is a week shorter than usual and that could affect the amount of shopping people can do. An increasing number of retailers are opening up on Thanksgiving to draw in customers.

Already, many retailers have trimmed profit forecasts for the year, citing Americans' hesitation to spend a lot of money. Barnes & Noble shares fell 95 cents, or 6 percent, to $15.47 after the bookseller's second-quarter sales fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The holiday shopping season can account for as much as 40 percent of the retail industry's annual sales. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects an increase of 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion in holiday sales this year.

In other company news, men's clothing store Jos. A. Bank rose $5.64, or 11 percent, to $56.24 after rival Men's Wearhouse offered to buy the company for $1.5 billion. Men's Wearhouse rose $4.57, or 10 percent, to $51.65.

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