S&P 500, Nasdaq Close at Records on Tech Rally, Housing Data

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq close at records following a rally in tech shares and strong U.S. housing data.
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The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite closed at record highs Tuesday following a rally in tech shares and strong U.S. housing data.

Both exchanges also set intraday highs.

Shares of Home Depot  (HD) - Get Report and Walmart  (WMT) - Get Report declined despite solid earnings beats from the giant retailers.

The S&P 500 finished up 0.23% to 3,389, its first record close since February. The Nasdaq gained 0.73% to close at 11,210 on gains from Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report and Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 66 points, or 0.24%, to 27,778.

"While the S&P breaking through the intraday high is psychologically interesting, these kind of milestones should be taken in stride," said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investment product at E-Trade. 

"It may hold some short-term importance for traders who have built this into their strategy, but for the most part anybody participating in the market should look past these relatively arbitrary moves and focus more on fundamentals. 

"That said, with retailers blowing it out of the water this morning, it’s not surprising to see a pop in the market - what remains to be seen is how long it’ll last," Larkin added.

U.S. housing starts jumped 22.6% in July from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.496 million amid record low interest rates. The gains were the most since October 2016. Permits rose 18.8% from June.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he was suspending certain changes at the U.S. Postal Service until after the 2020 election in order to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

DeJoy, a major Republican donor, had made a series of controversial cost-cutting measures that raised concern about mail-delivery delays that could have affected the November elections.

Ron Meyer, vice chairman of Comcast Corp.'s  (CMCSA) - Get Report NBCUniversal, stepped down Tuesday after disclosing that he had made a settlement with a woman with whom he had a consensual affair years ago. 

Meyer said he had been the target of an extortion effort from people who learned of the settlement, which he said he had made under threat.

Home Depot, the No. 1 home-improvement retailer, was down 1.1% on Tuesday even after posting much stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings. Sales far outpaced analysts' forecasts even amid the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Same-store sales rose 23.4% - more than double analysts' forecasts for a 10.5% gain - as coronavirus lockdowns enticed more buyers to spend cash on home repair projects. 

Walmart, meanwhile, smashed earnings expectations as online sales nearly doubled from last year. The stock fell 0.7%.

The world's largest retailer said e-commerce sales rose 97% from last year as Walmart introduced curbside pickup for online orders during the pandemic.