US STOCKS-Wall Street inches higher on strength in retailers


* Luxury store Tiffany & Co rises after results,

* Clothier Jos. A. Bank rallies after Men's Wearhouse offer

* Data shows housing recovery unfazed by higher mortgagerates

* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.7 pct

By Luke Swiderski

NEW YORK, Nov 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up on Tuesdayafter strong housing figures, retailer earnings and a proposedacquisition lifted those two industry sectors.

Tiffany & Co jumped 7.3 percent to $88.29 and wasthe S&P 500's best performer after the luxury retailer'sthird-quarter sales topped expectations and the company boostedits outlook for full-year profits. The S&P retail index advanced 0.9 percent.

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc surged 11.2 percent to$56.24 after Men's Wearhouse offered to buy the companyfor $55 per share in cash. Men's Wearhouse jumped 9.9 percent to$51.73.

The PHLX Housing Index rose 2.5 percent afterstronger-than-expected figures on building permits for Octoberand a steady rise in housing prices. Ryland Group ledthe index, gaining 5.5 percent to $39.99 a share.

Permits for future U.S. home construction hit a 5-1/2 yearhigh and an index of single-family home prices notched big gainsin September, suggesting higher mortgage rates have not haltedthe housing recovery.

Investors remained cautious about placing new bets after themarket's rally has sent indexes to record highs. The S&P 500 hasrisen nearly 27 percent this year, bolstered by expectations theFederal Reserve's stimulus will continue at least until the endof the year.

But low implied volatility, measured by the CBOE VolatilityIndex, has some investors concerned. The VIX was down 1.9percent to 12.55 on Tuesday.

"The problem is that the VIX is so below average, and withthe indexes at all-time highs ... you would think that therewould be someone betting, 'Boy, there is a correction coming.'And no one is," said Brian Battle, director of trading atPerformance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.

The Walt Disney Company led the Dow, with sharesrising 1.7 percent to $70.91. The company announcedbetter-than-expected earnings earlier in the month. [ID:nL2N0IS2CK]

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 32.94 points,or 0.20 percent, at 16,105.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 5.07 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,807.55. TheNasdaq Composite Index was up 26.53 points, or 0.66percent, at 4,021.10.

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidenceunexpectedly fell in November as Americans worried about theirfuture jobs and earnings prospects.

Trading is expected to remain light this week, withfinancial markets closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.Markets will also close early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) the followingday.

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