Updated from 4:14 p.m. EDT
A selloff in crude futures helped stocks overcame a scare from a steep drop in new-home prices, and the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
reached another record high.
Though it stumbled earlier, the Dow turned things around and rose 28.98 points, or 0.24%, to 12,163.66. Among its components,
dropped 2.1%, while
was higher by 2.5%.
added 6.86 points, or 0.5%, to 1389.08, having also reversed morning losses. The
gained 22.51 points, or 0.96%, to 2379.10. On the tech-heavy index, a 12.5% rise in
offset a drop of 24% in
"One has to marvel at how strong the market continues to be," said Barry Hyman, equity market strategist with EKN Financial. "After the three-month rally, the feel of today's market is as strong as any of the higher sessions. The participation of more sectors and the reaction to earnings statements is very positive. The technicals and the money flow look to be intact."
About 2.80 billion shares changed hands on the
New York Stock Exchange
, and volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 2.39 billion shares. Winners outpaced losers 2 to 1.
U.S. equities had a back-and-forth session following several economic releases. The Commerce Department said that even as new-home sales rose 5.3% in September, the median sales price plummeted 9.7% from August, the biggest drop since 1970.
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Economists anticipated no change from the previous month's 1.05 million new-homes pace. Instead, they got an increase to an annualized rate of 1.075 million. On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales fell 1.9% in September.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with High Frequency Economics, described the falloff in prices as startling. "Pressure on prices is, therefore, still down, and falling prices deter buyers," he said.
The seesaw movement on the major indices highlights the fickle nature of the market. Just a day before, the
decision to again keep rates steady in the absence of overwhelming evidence of inflation helped stocks close slightly higher.
For several months, economic reports showing modest growth, or in some cases outright slowdowns, have been welcomed on Wall Street because they improve the chances the Fed will stop tightening. However, when data have been overly weak, as was the case with housing prices, bulls have gone into hiding.
But a slide in oil prices provided buyers with a reason to move back in. The December crude contract ended down $1.04 to $60.34 a barrel, reversing the prior session's rise that put prices above the $61 mark. As for other commodities, gold futures added $9 to $599.80 an ounce, and silver was up 35 cents to close at $12.24 an ounce.
Also on the economic docket, the government said durable-goods orders rose a greater-than-expected 7.8% in September. Economists thought orders would rise 2.3% after a revised 0.1% dip in August. Excluding transportation, orders rose 0.1%. The headline number was boosted by a 42% advance in defense capital goods.
Additionally, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose by 8,000 to 308,000 last week. The less volatile four-week moving average of claims fell by 2,750 to 305,250.
"There's competing economic numbers today," said Jay Suskind, head of institutional equity trading with Ryan Beck & Co. "Investors are looking at where the strength of the economy is. There's a bit of uncertainty about the economy that's resonating into stocks."
After the economic data were released, the 10-year Treasury was up 12/32 in price to yield 4.72%. The dollar fell against the yen and euro.
Earnings again arrived at a brisk pace.
missed analysts' third-quarter earnings estimates, but revenue of $10.5 billion was a little better than expected. Sprint added $1.18, or 6.7%, to close at $18.90.
posted third-quarter earnings of $10.49 billion, or $1.77 a share, up from $9.92 billion, or $1.58 a share, last year. The Thomson First Call average estimate was for a profit of $1.59 a share in the September period. Revenue dipped to $99.59 billion from $100.72 billion a year ago. Exxon rose 61 cents, or 0.9%, to $71.62.
posted third-quarter earnings of $72 million, or 61 cents a share, nearly unchanged from the year-ago results. Revenue rose 2.5% to $623 million from last year. The Thomson First Call average forecast was for earnings of 64 cents. Wendy's gave back 7 cents, or 0.2%, to $35.50.
posted third-quarter net income of $281.1 million, or 70 cents a share, up 3% from the same quarter last year. Quarterly sales rose to $2.82 billion from $2.62 billion a year ago. Wall Street expected earnings of 65 cents a share on sales of $2.76 billion. Kellogg also raised its full-year guidance, and shares finished up 57 cents, or 1.2%, at $50.21.
said third-quarter earnings dropped to $338 million, or 17 cents a share, down 65% from the year-ago quarter. However, Bristol-Myers reported adjusted earnings of 22 cents a share, beating the consensus for EPS of 20 cents. The stock ended lower by 13 cents, or 0.5%, at $24.53.
topped third-quarter consensus earnings expectations and raised its 2007 guidance, while
exceeded estimates and disclosed plans for a $2 billion stock buyback.
Friday will bring an end to a week filled with earnings releases. Reports are expected from
, among others.
European markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 losing 0.5% to 6185 and Germany's Xetra DAX rising 0.3% to 6284. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.7% overnight to 16,812, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.1% to 18,353.