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Market Update

Durable Orders and Housing Data Fuel Optimism on Wall Street

Author: Nichole Harper
Last Update: 12:20 PM ET March 26 2013

12:15 PM New York – Stocks on Wall Street opened sharply higher after mixed reports on housing markets and better than expected increase in durable goods orders. Investors bid up stocks after a string of positive economic data in the U.S. and overlooked the ongoing Cyprus saga.

Stocks in New York advanced after durable goods orders increased more than expected and a mixed report on housing market and the euro zone debt worries continued.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index gained 8 or 0.5% to 1,560.12 and the narrow index of 30 stocks Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 94.4 or 0.7% to 14,542.09.

Durable Goods Orders Rise

Durable goods orders increased 5.7% in February, according to the latest data released by the Commerce Department. The orders had declined 3.8% in January on weak aircraft orders.

The volatile aircraft orders drove the increase in demand in the month.

Excluding transportation, orders decreased 0.5% after rising 2.9% in January. Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, declined 2.7%, the largest monthly fall since July. Core orders are closely watched because it is the number used in the calculation of gross domestic product.

Home Sales Decline, Median Price Increase

Second report from the Commerce Department said new home sales in February declined last month after surging 12.3% from a year ago.

New home sales declined in the month 4.6% to a 411,000 annual rate, following a a revised 431,000 rate in the prior month.

Median home price for a new home increased 3% to $246,800 in February from January and increased 2.9% from a year ago.

Separately, controversial index of metropolitan home prices tracking 20 largest cities increased 8.1% in January from a year ago. The index declined 1% on a month-to-month basis.

Confidence among U.S. consumers declined more than expected.

The Conference Board’ Index of confidence declined to 59.7 from a revised 3-month high of 68 in February, according to the data released today by the private research company.

Stocks in Review

Apparel retailer declined after the International Council of Shopping Centers lowered its higher end of the estimate for March same store sales and cited “abnormally cold bout of weather” in most of the eastern region in the country.

Children’s Place Retail Stores (PLCE) declined 1.2% after the clothing retailer estimated lower earnings in the current period and in the year on inclement weather and a weak economy.

Netflix (NFLX) gained 5% after a broker lifted its view on the stocks and said improvement in overseas operations and expectations of rising subscriptions in the U.S. will help the company.

RF Micro Devices (RFMD) soared 7% after Oppenheimer lifted its investment outlook on the stock and cited expanding market.

Ziopharm Oncology (ZIOP) plunged 62% after the company said it was ending its cancer treatment development after a late-stage trial failed to deliver on central cure.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc