Stocks rose on Tuesday, with the Dow posting a record finish, as better-than-expected reports on housing ignited a rally among home builders.
"The building permits number was a really good number; not only was it positive and better than expectations, but it is also a leading indicator of housing, it tells us where it is going, not where it has been," said Hugh Johnson, chairman of Hugh Johnson Advisors. "It's very positive for constructive employment and home sales in 2014," he added.
A day after climbing to a record close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average extended those gains, led by entertainment company Walt Disney. Along the way, it hit an intraday record of 16,120.25, and closed at 16,072.80, up a fraction.
Consumer discretionary and technology shares paced sector gains and utilities and materials lagged on the S&P 500, which along with the Dow had its gains largely evaporate in the final moments of the session, with traders chalking up the move to a big sell order.
The S&P ended with a fractional gain to close at 1,802.75.
A day after clearing 4,000 for the first time in 13 years, the Nasdaq repeated that climb, rising 23.18 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,017.75.
Johnson believes the market taking is a adopting a more passive stance two days ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
"I think today has holiday written all over it; the last few days have had holiday written over them. People are starting to move towards the exit, as in, take a few days off. Sure you get a little movement based on housing and confidence, with housing being good news and confidence being bad news. But there doesn't seem to be as much of an active trader response," Johnson said.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index came in at 70.4 in November, below expectations of a rise to 72.9 from 71.2 in October.
Another report had building permits rising to a five-year high in October and The S&P/Case-Schiller index of home prices in 20 cities home prices climbing 13.3 percent in September from a year ago.
"Permits typically herald home construction ahead and if the latest reading holds true, construction companies appear confident in how 2014 will turn out," Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, wrote of the government report, which had building permits rising 6.2 percent in October to 1.034 million versus a 925,000 estimate, and 5.2 percent to 974,000 in September.
Tiffany gained 8 percent after the luxury-jewelry retailer hiked its profit outlook for the year, and posted better-than-expected quarterly income.