NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks rose Tuesday after the Conference Board's index of consumer confidence hit a seven-year high as gas prices nationwide plummeted to multi-year lows.
U.S. stocks also were bolstered by strong industrial figures in China. Investors shrugged off an unexpected decline in U.S. durable goods orders for September. A report Tuesday morning also showed that home prices in the U.S. continued to rise in August, slightly exceeding economists' forecasts.
The S&P 500 was rising 0.63%, while the Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial Average were trading higher by 1.14% and 0.38%, respectively.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index unexpectedly rose to 94.5 in October from a reading of 89.0 in September, exceeding economists' forecasts of a slight monthly drop. The October reading was the highest in seven years and likely reflected consumers increasing confidence in the U.S. economy, in addition to the pocketbook impact of falling gas prices, which have plunged below $3 a gallon in some regions.
"Looking ahead, consumers have regained confidence in the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, and are more optimistic about their future earnings potential," said Lynn Franco of the Conference Board.
Durable goods orders in the U.S. unexpectedly fell 1.3% in September, sharply missing median economist forecasts of a 0.5% rise. Excluding transportation, durable goods fell 0.2% in September, missing estimates and indicating continued declines in orders.
The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 0.2% month-over-month increase in housing prices nationwide in August, slightly exceeding estimates of a 0.18% rise. Detroit led monthly home price gains, posting a 0.8% rise, while San Francisco led losers with a 0.4% decline.
The 10-city composite rose 5.5% year over year, while the 20-city composite gained 5.6%, reflecting a deceleration in home price gains from July.
Data from the Chinese statistics bureau showed that industrial profits in the country rose by 563.4 billion yuan ($92.2 billion) in September, reversing a 0.6% drop in August. Bloomberg data show that industrial profits have risen 7.9% through the first nine months of 2014, exceeding overall gross domestic product.
Chinese stock indices surged more than 1.5% on Tuesday after President Xi Jinping said the country may consider opening free trade zones nationwide.
Energy was the best performing sector on the S&P 500, posting a gain of 1.39% in midday trading. Stocks in the sector have weighed on U.S. indices as the price of oil has fluctuated around multi-year lows.
Nymex West Texas Intermediate Crude was trading up 0.32% in midday trading at $81.26 a barrel, while ICE Brent was trading slightly higher at $85.86.
Investors also are awaiting a decision from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday as to whether the central bank will end its monthly bond-buying in October. The Fed's guidance indicates an end to stimulus efforts, as do median forecasts of economists polled by Bloomberg.
Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report reported adjusted third-quarter earnings of 1 cent a share, matching forecasts, while revenue topped analysts' expectations. Twitter's user base rose 23% to 284 million monthly active users in the quarter, indicating a slowing in user growth.
Twitter's guidance for coming quarter profits and sales also may have disappointed investors. Shares tumbled more than 12% in early trading.
Madison Square Garden (MSG) - Get Madison Square Garden Co. Class A Report is considering a plan to separate its entertainment businesses from its media and sports divisions, causing shares in the company to surge over 11% in early trading.
MSG's entertainment unit hosts live events at the company's namesake Manhattan venue and at other sites including Radio City Musical Hall. The media and sports business owns teams including the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers plus regional sports networks MSG Network and MSG+.
Shares in the company opened Tuesday trading with a higher market capitalization than former parent Cablevision (CVC) , which spun off the business in 2009.
DuPont (DD) - Get DuPont de Nemours, Inc. Report and Pfizer (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report reported better-than-forecast third-quarter earnings, while telecom T-Mobile (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report added 1.4 million post-paid subscribers in the third quarter and maintained coming quarters' guidance.
Social media giant Facebook (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report is expected by Wall Street on Tuesday to report a profit of 40 cents a share in the third quarter on revenue of $3.12 billion. Facebook earned 17 cents a share in the same quarter a year earlier.
-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York