By Kate Gibson
U.S. stocks on Monday closed higher for a third straight session, with FedEx Corp.'s improved outlook and a break from disappointing economic data helping lift the Dow industrials back into positive territory for the year.
"While the first chapter of the recovery did contain some scary parts, the story should get less frightening as future chapters unfold," David Kelly, chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, wrote in a note.
Helped by a late-session burst that lifted the indexes to their highs of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) closed up 100.81 points, or 1%, to 10,525.43. The blue-chip average is now 0.9% higher for the year, marking its first finish above its Dec. 31, 2009, close in five weeks.
Twenty-nine of the Dow's 30 components gained, led by 3% gains in shares of Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC). Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) was the only decliner, and its shares fell 1.1%.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX) climbed 12.35 points, or 1.1%, to 1,115.01, with industrials and financials leading gains that stretched across all 10 industry groups. The index is just a hair away from positive for the year, off 0.01%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) added 26.96 points, or 1.2%, to 2,296.43, notching a 1.2% gain for the year.
For every stock on the decline, more than four were rising on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume topped 1 billion shares, or 81% of the exchange's one-month average.
After the major U.S. stock indexes slipped at the open, stocks turned higher after government data showed that new-home sales rebounded 23.6% in June. .
"The headline pace is a little better than expected, and that could give stocks some further upside momentum after good earnings news from FedEx," said analysts at Action Economics.
Also bolstering sentiment, FedEx (FDX) on Monday raised its profit forecast for the first quarter and full year, citing better-than-expected growth in shipping volumes. Its shares were up 5.6%. .
U.S. stocks soared last week, as second-quarter corporate results have so far largely yielded robust earnings and outlooks. Economic reports, however, have produced a more mixed picture of the recovery, so Monday's housing data from the Commerce Department proved a welcome change.
Home builders fared well in the wake of the sales report, with PulteGroup Inc. (PHM) up 4.7%, D.R. Horton Inc. (DHI) gaining 3% and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV) ahead 6.5%. Also, shares of Beazer Homes USA Inc. (BZH) were up 6.2% and Lennar Corp. (LEN) climbed 3.3%.
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) shares lagged, ending up 0.02% after the European Union launched a probe against IBM, reviving allegations that the company took unfair advantage of its dominant position in the mainframe computer market.
IBM rejected the allegations, while blaming Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and other rivals for arousing the EU action.
BP PLC's (BP) U.S. shares gained 4.9% after media reports said its Chief Executive Tony Hayward will step down from his post in October, and ahead of quarterly results scheduled for release Tuesday. The oil company is likely to take a big charge to cover cleanup costs in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Europe, markets climbed modestly as investors overseas had their first chance to react to tests measuring the health of 91 of the continent's banks.
Gold futures edged down to finish at $1,183.10 an ounce, while crude-oil futures ended flat at $78.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.