Nasdaq Hit Record High Tuesday, Home Prices Rise

ALEX VEIGA, AP

(AP) – A day of quiet trading on Wall Street ended Tuesday with the Dow Jones industrial average inching closer to 20,000 and a record high for the Nasdaq composite.

Materials and technology companies led U.S. stocks slightly higher overall. Energy companies also rose as the price of crude oil moved higher. Utilities and phone company stocks edged lower.

Trading was light following the long holiday weekend, with less than 1.9 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. That’s the lightest full day of trading since October 2015.

“Markets are moving toward 20,000 and bond yields are up; there’s a little bit of buoyancy in oil prices,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank. “(But) trading is very, very thin.”

The Dow added 11.23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 19,945.04. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 5.09 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,268.88. The Nasdaq rose 24.75 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,4 87.44. The tech-heavy index’s previous record high was 5,483 on Dec. 20.

The three major indexes are on pace for solid gains for 2016, led by the Dow, which is up 14.5 percent. The S&P 500 is on track for an 11 percent gain, while the Nasdaq is headed for a 9.6 percent gain. Small-company stocks are up even more. The Russell 2000 is up 21 percent so far this year.

While little new major economic or company data is expected this week as 2016 winds to a close, investors did get some fresh figures on consumer confidence and home prices Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index climbed to 113.7 in December, up from 109.4 in November and the highest since it reached 114 in August 2001. The latest reading is another sign consumers are confident in the aftermath of a divisive election campaign.

U.S. home prices rose in October driven by buyers competing over scarce properties with the median price of existing homes climbing to $234,900.

The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, rose 5.1 percent in October from a year earlier after climbing 5 percent in September.

Along with the good news, however, was confirmation that prices for the 20 cities included in the index are still 7.1 percent below their July 2006 peak.

The broader Case-Shiller national home price index was up 5.6 percent in October and has fully recovered from the financial crisis.

Prices rose 10.7 percent annually in Seattle, 10.3 percent in Portland and 8.3 percent in Denver. New York saw the smallest year-over-year gain: 1.7 percent.

Further proof of scarcity in the housing market came from the National Association of Realtors last week.

The association reported that fewer than 1.9 million homes were on the market in November, down 9 percent from a year earlier. It said the rise in the median price of existing homes is up 6.8 percent from a year ago.

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