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Stocks Higher, Helped By Retail And Housing Stocks

By KEN SWEET
AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The stock market edged higher in morning trading Tuesday after strong earnings from luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. and a government report that showed homebuilders remain optimistic about future demand.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points to 16,087 as of 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained a point to 1,804. The Nasdaq composite added 9 points to 4,004.

Tiffany & Co.'s was the best performing stock in the S&P 500. The jewelry chain rose $6.14, or 8 percent, to $87.17 after it said third-quarter profit rose 50 percent because of strong sales in Asia. The company also raised its full-year forecast.

Homebuilder shares surged after the Commerce Department reported that approvals for housing permits rose in October at the fastest pace in five years. Those applications indicate that builders expect heightened demand.

While most of the growth in the report came from apartment permits, not homes, investors felt the data was positive.

"It's going to translate into job creation once those permits turn into actual construction," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist with Prudential Financial.

In other housing news, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.7 percent from August to September, down from a 1.3 percent gain from July to August.

Shares of Pulte, Toll Brothers and Lennar all rose 2 percent or more.

Trading remained light during a holiday-shortened week. Stock and bond markets are closed Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving. On Friday, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will close early.

Investors are paying close attention to any details from retailers as Black Friday approaches.

Due to the lateness of the Thanksgiving this year, the holiday shopping season is a week shorter than usual and that could affect the amount of shopping people can do. An increasing number of retailers are opening up on Thanksgiving, this Thursday, to draw in customers.

Already, many retailers have trimmed profit forecasts for the year, citing Americans hesitation to spend a lot of money. Barnes & Noble shares fell 66 cents, or 4 percent, to $15.78 after the bookseller's second-quarter sales fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The holiday shopping season can account for as much as 40 percent of the retail industry's annual sales. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects an increase of 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion in holiday sales this year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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