Stocks advanced Tuesday, lifting the Dow Jones industrial average to its first close above 13,000 in nearly four years, as investors were buoyed by strong U.S. consumer confidence data.
The Dow broke through 13,000 several times last week, but it hasn't closed above that level since May 19, 2008 -- months before the onset of the financial crisis and the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Stocks opened the session flat after data showed orders for long-lasting goods had the biggest fall in three years and dented optimism about the pace of the domestic recovery.
But stocks managed to gain some traction after the Conference Board said consumer confidence in the world's largest economy jumped to a one-year high in February. The reading carries weight as consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
"They are focusing on the positive and eliminating the negative reports, which I am very interested in because durable goods was tough - it was a big miss," said Ken Polcari, managing director of ICAP Equities in New York.
"So there is a lot going on, but the fact is, those couple of reports that came out today are clearly conflicted, clearly mixed. So once again, we are kind of stuck in the middle."
The S&P 500 ticked above 1,370, but some analysts have cautioned the rally this year has occurred on light volume, leaving the market susceptible to a pullback. Still, a close above 1,370 could invite momentum buying as money managers chase performance.
Technology shares ranked among the best performers, with Micron Technology Inc up after Intel Corp said it will sell its stake in two wafer factories to Micron and buy chips from the company.
Apple’s share price jumped 10 percent to $535 after the company said it is hosting a media event next week where it is expected to unveil the latest version of its popular iPad tablet as it looks to thwart increasing competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon Inc.
Retailers got a lift from the earnings of Office Depot Inc and AutoZone Inc.
With earnings season drawing to a close, 472 of the S&P 500 components have reported results through Tuesday morning. About 63 percent beat analysts' expectations, below the average 70 percent beat rate in the last four quarters, but slightly above the average of 62 percent since 1994.
Europe's banks were expected to take in another half trillion euros in cheap three-year loans offered by the ECB on Wednesday in a bid to inject liquidity into the fragile banking system.
Oil fell for a second straight session, halting a surge that has threatened to hurt the global economy. Equity investors remained wary over persistent supply worries from the Middle East, but improving economic news has continued to play a key role in driving the U.S. equities market.