Dow tops 9,000 as home sales rise for 3rd month
By TIM PARADIS and SARA LEPRO, AP Business Writers
July 23, 2009
NEW YORK – The Dow Jones industrials are back above 9,000 for the first time since the beginning of January.
Investors are snapping up stocks across the market Thursday, sending major indexes up about 2 percent, after a report showed existing home sales jumped for the third straight month.
A 3.6-percent increase in June home sales has investors excited that the hard-hit housing market might be improving. The National Association of Realtors said sales came in at 4.89 million last month, above the 4.84 million analysts had been expecting.
Several better-than-expected earnings reports also helped boost investor sentiment. Ford Motor Co. surprised the market with a second-quarter profit of $2.3 billion due mainly to a huge gain for debt reduction, while drug maker Wyeth, cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. and candy maker Hershey Co. all raised their profit forecasts for the year.
Investors were able to look past a government report showing a bigger-than-expected rise in new jobless claims. The Labor Department said the number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 30,000 last week to 554,000, slightly above analysts' estimates. However, a Labor Department analyst said the report was distorted by the timing of auto plant shutdowns.
Also, total unemployment benefit rolls fell to the lowest level since mid-April.
After a month of wayward trading, stocks restarted the market's spring rally early last week after companies like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Intel Corp. got earnings season off to a good start with solid reports.
"Things are getting much better and the market is pricing it in," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors.......
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