By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks advanced more decisively Thursday after some better-than-expected data on the housing front added to cheer that came with an upbeat forecast from Citrix Systems Inc.
After a tepid start, stock indexes picked up steam after the National Association of Realtors reported its index of pending home sales climbed 4.1% in March to a two-year high.
Housing-related shares gained, with PulteGroup Inc. (PHM) and Lennar Corp. (LEN) among the top gainers on the S&P 500 (SPX) .
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 53.51 points, or 0.4%, to 13,144.23.
The S&P 500 Index climbed nearly 2 points, or 0.1%, to 1,392.66, with telecommunications and technology the leading sectors among its 10 major industry groups.
Leading gains on the S&P, Citrix Systems (CTXS) rose nearly 9% after the software maker projected 2012 earnings that beat estimates.
The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) rose 10.69 points, or 0.4%, to 3,040.33.
Advancers pulled ahead of decliners by a roughly 5-to-4 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange, where 139 million shares traded by 10:20 a.m. Eastern.
Weighing on sentiment, weekly jobless claims came in virtually unchanged.