Housing reports give stocks a small boost

Traders on the floor of the New York

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Economists are expecting promising news on Wed., Sept. 19, when the National Association of Realtors reports on existing home sales. (Sept. 18, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

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A pair of encouraging reports about the housing market gave U.S. stocks a little boost Wednesday.

Home sales jumped to the highest level in more than two years in August, the National Association of Realtors said. Sales rose 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million, the most since May 2010.

Earlier, the government reported that construction of single-family homes in August also was the fastest in more than two years.

Stocks of home builders rose in response. D.R. Horton Inc. rose 87 cents to $22.22; Beazer Homes USA Inc. rose 22 cents to $3.75; and KB Home rose 46 cents to $13.16.

Gains for broader stock indexes were muted. At its high for the day, the Dow Jones industrial average was up just 62 points.

The housing numbers "are fantastic news," but traders continue to worry about recent discouraging signals this week such as a warning from Federal Express that the global economy is slowing, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist for TD Ameritrade, a retail brokerage.

The Dow closed up 13.32 points, at 13,577.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.12 percent to 1,461.05. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.15 percent, to 3,182.62.

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